Several studies have shown that physical activity levels have declined in many countries, even with the regular practice of physical education in schools. The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence of low physical activity levels and associated factors in adolescents enrolled in public high schools in Northeastern Brazil.
The sample was composed of 2259 adolescents (62.3% female) aged 16.26 ± 1.1 years. A questionnaire was applied to collect data on physical activity levels, sociodemographic information, tobacco use and alcohol consumption, nutritional status and sedentary behavior. Descriptive statistics and Poisson regression hierarchized model with Prevalence Rate (PR) and P ≤ .05 were used.
Higher prevalence of low physical activity level (89.1%) was observed. It was observed that 19.6% of individuals did not attend physical education classes regularly. Association was identified between low physical activity level and older girls (P = .02) and not attending physical education classes (P < .01). In males, the group most likely to have that low physical activity level was those whose parents studied until three years (P = .04).
Low physical activity level was present in most adolescents, more evident in girls. Lifestyle changes are needed, with substitution of sedentary activities for physical and sport activities in schools.