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Shannon L. Michael, Edward Coffield, Sarah M. Lee and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.