The contribution of sports related factors to predicting long-term physical activity (PA) are unclear. The purpose of this study is to examine tracking of PA during key transition periods in youth and to determine the longitudinal associations between sports club participation and PA.
Participants (n = 873, baseline age 10 to 18 years) completed self-report surveys in 2009 and 2014 that included the PACE+ PA tool and sports club participation questions. Spearman correlations assessed PA tracking. ANCOVA analyses examined predictors (sports participation at baseline) of PA (follow-up), adjusting for (a) age and sex; and (b) age, sex, and baseline PA.
Tracking of PA was weak-to-moderate (ρ = .16 to .47). Greater sports participation frequency at baseline significantly predicted PA at follow-up (P < .01). Involvement in club sports at an elite level had a medium-to-large effect on PA levels 5 years later [d = .75 adjusting for (a); d = .60 adjusting for (b)].
PA should be promoted in youth as tracking coefficients suggest it can, to an extent, continue into later life. The standard achieved in sport has a role in predicting later PA. PA promotion strategies should include frequent, high quality opportunities for sports participation.
Hardie Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org) is with the School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. Rowe is with the School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom. Woods is with the Dept of Physical Education and Sport Science, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, University of Limerick, Ireland.