Evidence of an association between employment and physical activity (PA) in youth has been mixed, with studies suggesting both positive and negative associations. We examined the association between employment and PA among U.S. high school students as measured by self-reported overall PA, vigorous exercise, and participation in school athletic teams.
We employed a secondary analysis using weighted linear regression to a sample of black and white 10th grade (n = 12073) and 12th grade students (n = 5500) drawn from the nationally representative cross-sectional 2004 Monitoring the Future Study.
Overall, 36.5% of 10th and 74.6% of 12th grade students were employed. In multivariable analyses, 10th graders working >10 hours a week reported less overall PA and exercise and those working >20 hours a week reported less participation in team sports. Among 12th graders, any level of employment was associated with lower rates of team sports; those working >10 hours a week reported less overall PA; and those working >20 hours reported less exercise.
Employment at and above 10 hours per week is negatively associated with PA. Increasing work intensity may shed light on the decline of PA as adolescents grow older and merits further attention in research.