Physical Activity Academic Performance and Physical Self-Description in Adolescent Females

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashley M. Guerieri (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Matthew T. Mahar

Abstract: Despite the many health benefits of being physically active nearly a quarter of U.S. adults and adolescents report no participation in leisure-time physical activity. It is recommended that children and adolescents participate in physical activity for at least 60 minutes daily at moderate or vigorous intensity. In addition to potentially enhancing academic performance participation in physical activity may also influence perceptions of physical appearance and global self-esteem which tend to decrease with age in adolescent females. The purposes of this study were to: (a) examine the prevalence of overweight and obesity and the percentage of adolescent females from a rural community that meets physical activity recommendations; (b) examine the relationship of body composition physical activity and sedentary behavior on academic performance; and (c) examine the relationship between physical activity and physical self-concept among adolescent females. Thirty adolescent females (mean age = 15.6 ± 1.3 years) wore an Actigraph GT1M accelerometer for seven consecutive days set to measure in 15-second epochs. Age specific cutpoints were used to determine minutes of sedentary behavior and light moderate vigorous and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Participants completed the Physical Self-Description Questionnaire (PSDQ) to assess how they perceive themselves physically. Height weight and percent body fat were measured. Grade point averages (GPA) were obtained from school records. Regression analysis was performed to predict GPA from measures of body composition sedentary behavior and MVPA. Measures of physical activity and sedentary behavior were correlated with PSDQ subscale scores with Pearson correlations. Thirty percent of participants (n = 9) were obese (BMI [greater than or equal to] 95th percentile) and another 36% (n = 11) were overweight (BMI between the 85th and 94th percentiles). None of the participants accumulated [greater than or equal to] 60 minutes of MVPA per day. Daily MVPA averaged 9.7 (± 7.1) minutes. Percent fat (r = -.51) minutes of MVPA (r = .34) and time spent in sedentary behavior (r = .32) were significantly correlated (p < .05) with GPA. Together measures of body composition physical activity and sedentary behavior explained 36% of the variance (multiple R = .60) in GPA. The standard error of estimate for predicting GPA was 0.64. Minutes per day spent in light physical activity was negatively correlated (p < .01) with the Self-Esteem (r = -.51) Body Fat (r = -.52) and Global Physical Self-Concept (r = -.48) subscales of the PSDQ. Only the Physical Activity subscale of the PSDQ was significantly correlated with MVPA (r = .36). In conclusion the current sample of adolescent females had a high prevalence of overweight and obesity and was physically inactive. Academic performance was significantly associated with measures of body composition physical activity and sedentary behavior. Time spent in light physical activity was associated with lower self-perceptions of body fat global physical self-concept and self-esteem. Measures of higher intensity physical activity were generally not associated with physical self-perception measures possibly due to the low amount of time spent in MVPA. Interventions to increase physical activity and improve body composition in adolescent girls should be considered not only for their health effects but also for their potential to impact academic performance and psychological profiles. 

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Kinesiology, Education, General, Psychology, General, Academic achievement, Adolescence, Body composition, Females, Physical activity, Physical self-description
Teenage girls--Health and hygiene
Exercise for girls
Academic achievement
Obesity in adolescence
Self-esteem in adolescence
Self-perception in adolescence
Body image in girls

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