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Jo Inchley, Jo Kirby and Candace Currie

The purpose of this study was to examine adolescents’ physical self-perceptions and their associations with physical activity using a longitudinal perspective. Utilizing data from the Physical Activity in Scottish Schoolchildren (PASS) study, changes in exercise self-efficacy, perceived competence, global self-esteem and physical self-worth were assessed among a sample of 641 Scottish adolescents from age 11–15 years. Girls reported lower levels of perceived competence, self-esteem and physical self-worth than boys at each age. Furthermore, girls’ physical self-perceptions decreased markedly over time. Among boys, only perceived competence decreased, while global self-esteem increased. Baseline physical activity was a significant predictor of later activity levels for both genders. Findings demonstrate the importance of physical self-perceptions in relation to physical activity behavior among adolescents. Among older boys, high perceived competence increased the odds of being active by 3.8 times. Among older girls, high exercise self-efficacy increased the odds of being active by 5.2 times. There is a need for early interventions which promote increased physical literacy and confidence, particularly among girls.

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Joanna Kirby, Kate A. Levin and Jo Inchley

Background:

This study investigated parental and peer influences on physical activity, examining gender and developmental differences during early-mid adolescence.

Methods:

A 5-year longitudinal study tracking physical activity (measured by PAQ-C) among adolescents (n = 641) from final year of primary (P7) to fourth year of secondary school (S4). Peer support, peer socializing, parental support, and independent play were assessed. Logistic regression predicted physical activity, by year and gender, in relation to social influences.

Results:

Boys reported higher physical activity, peer support, paternal support, and independent play than girls. Among both genders, peer, paternal, and maternal support decreased with age, whereas independent play increased. Time with friends was particularly important. Among high socializers (P7), odds of being active were over 3 times those of low socializers [boys: 3.53 (95% CI 1.77, 7.04), girls: 3.27 (95% CI 1.80, 5.92)]. Baseline physical activity was also a strong predictor among early secondary boys (OR 3.90 95% CI 2.10, 7.24) and girls (OR 4.15, 95% CI 2.00, 8.62). Parental support was less important than peer influences; only same-sex parental support remained significant in multivariables models.

Conclusions:

Parents and peers have important influences on adolescent physical activity. Significant gender and developmental effects are apparent through early-mid adolescence.