Federal guidelines state that youth should participate in a variety of physical activity (PA) they find enjoyable. Little is known, however, about how variety and enjoyment are associated with PA participation among adolescents.
Data came from the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey, a nationally representative survey of adolescents. Path analysis was used to examine the association of a variety of self-reported PA, defined as the number of activities and activity types (ie, team sports/weightlifting, individual activities, and other competitive/recreational sports), on self-reported PA enjoyment and participation. The analysis also examined whether enjoyment mediates the association between a variety of PA and participation. Separate models were estimated for boys and girls.
Number of activities was associated with increased PA enjoyment and participation. For boys and girls, team sports/weightlifting was associated with increased participation, and individual activities were indirectly associated with increased participation through enjoyment. For boys, team sports/weightlifting was indirectly related with participation.
These findings suggest that participation in a variety of PA is associated with increased PA enjoyment and participation. Providing opportunities for adolescents to engage in a variety of activities might help them identify PA they enjoy and facilitate lifelong PA habits.