Adolescent self-rated health is a strong predictor of future illness. In this study we investigated whether physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with self-rated health among adolescents aged 16 years.
The study sample comprised 7,063 adolescents from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC 1986) who responded to a postal questionnaire in 2001 to 2002. Self-rated health was measured by a single-item question, while physical activity was evaluated by a set of questions concerning the intensity and volume of physical activity outside school hours. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured with a submaximal cycle ergometer test. Odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for good self-rated health were obtained from multinomial logistic regression.
High levels of physical activity (boys: OR 5.50, 95% CI 3.16 to 9.58; girls: OR 4.25, 95% CI 2.37 to 7.61) and cardiorespiratory fitness (boys: OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.05 to 3.24; girls: OR 2.62, 95% CI 1.47 to 4.66) were associated with very good self-rated health in adolescents.
High levels of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are positively associated with adolescents’ self-rated health. Public health promotion activities that foster physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness may benefit young people’s overall health and well-being.