University of Oulu

Aira, T., Vasankari, T., Heinonen, O.J. et al. Physical activity from adolescence to young adulthood: patterns of change, and their associations with activity domains and sedentary time. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 18, 85 (2021).

Physical activity from adolescence to young adulthood : patterns of change, and their associations with activity domains and sedentary time

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Author: Aira, Tuula1; Vasankari, Tommi2,3; Heinonen, Olli Juhani4;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Jyväskylä, PL 35, FI-40014, Jyväskylä, Finland
2UKK Institute of Health Promotion Research, Kaupinpuistonkatu 1, FI-33500, Tampere, Finland
3Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
4Paavo Nurmi Centre & Unit for Health and Physical Activity, University of Turku, Kiinamyllykatu 10, FI-20520, Turku, Finland
5Medical Research Center (MRC), University of Oulu and University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute Foundation sr, P.O. Box 365, FI-90101, Oulu, Finland
7Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, Jyväskylä, Finland
9Tampere Research Center of Sports Medicine, Kaupinpuistonkatu 1, FI-33500, Tampere, Finland
10Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
11Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine, Haapaniementie 16, FI-70100, Kuopio, Finland
12Clinic for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Foundation for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Alppikatu 2, FI-00530, Helsinki, Finland
13Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Clinicum, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
14Research Center for Olympic Sports, Rautpohjankatu 6, FI-40700, Jyväskylä, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-28


Background: Longitudinal studies demonstrate an average decline in physical activity (PA) from adolescence to young adulthood. However, while some subgroups of adolescents decrease activity, others increase or maintain high or low activity. Activity domains may differ between subgroups (exhibiting different PA patterns), and they offer valuable information for targeted health promotion. Hence, the aim of this study was to identify PA patterns from adolescence to young adulthood; also to explore the associations of (i) changes in PA domains and in sedentary time, (ii) sociodemographic factors, and (iii) self-rated health with diverging PA patterns.

Methods: The observational cohort study data encompassed 254 adolescents at age 15 and age 19. K-means cluster analysis for longitudinal data was performed to identify participant clusters (patterns) based on their accelerometry-measured moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Logistic regressions were applied in further analysis.

Results: Five PA patterns were identified: inactivity maintainers (n = 71), activity maintainers (n = 70), decreasers from moderate (to low) PA (n = 61), decreasers from high (to moderate) PA (n = 32), and increasers (n = 20). At age 15, participation in sports clubs (SC, 41–97%) and active commuting (AC, 47–75%) was common in all the patterns. By age 19, clear dropout from these activities was prevalent (SC participation mean 32%, AC 31–63%). Inactivity maintainers reported the lowest amount of weekly school physical education. Dropout from SC — in contrast to non-participation in SC — was associated with higher odds of being a decreaser from high PA, and with lower odds of being an inactivity maintainer. Maintained SC participation was associated with higher odds of belonging to the decreasers from high PA, and to the combined group of activity maintainers and increasers; also with lower odds of being an inactivity maintainer. Maintenance/adoption of AC was associated with decreased odds of being an inactivity maintainer. Self-reported health at age 19 was associated with the patterns of maintained activity and inactivity.

Conclusions: PA patterns diverge over the transition to adulthood. Changes in SC participation and AC show different associations with diverging PA patterns. Hence, tailored PA promotion is recommended.

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Series: International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity
ISSN: 1479-5868
ISSN-E: 1479-5868
ISSN-L: 1479-5868
Volume: 18
Article number: 85
DOI: 10.1186/s12966-021-01130-x
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 315 Sport and fitness sciences
3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This work was supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture (major, grant numbers: 6/091/2011, 28/626/2016), the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (minor, grant number: 152/THL/TE/2012) encompassing all parts of the study. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection, statistical analysis, or preparation of this manuscript.
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