Worldwide, there is a growing concern with adolescents’ low levels of physical activity (PA). We used a comprehensive social ecological framework to uncover factors associated with leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) among adolescents from southeastern Spain.
A population-based sample of 3249 adolescents aged 12–17 participated in a school-based survey in 2006. Potential correlates of participation in and level of LTPA were assessed through self-report. LTPA levels were also self-reported. We used gender-stratified logistic regression models to examine the associations among the variables of interest.
Consistent with a social ecological perspective, analyses revealed several factors, corresponding to different levels of organization (demographic, biological, psychological, behavioral, social) and behavioral settings (family, peer group, school), significantly associated with LTPA. Some of these factors varied as a function of gender and depending on whether the outcome considered was nonparticipation vs. participation in LTPA or high vs. low level of involvement among participants. Overall, the findings highlight the role of health-related participation motives, significant others’ attitudes toward PA, and grade in physical education as correlates of LTPA in this sample.
Continued research is necessary to understand the complex interplay of factors and settings associated with adolescent LTPA and the role of gender.