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J Sch Health. 2010 Mar;80(3):134-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2009.00477.x.

Relationship between frequency and intensity of physical activity and health behaviors of adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Health Education and Behavior, College of Health and Human Performance, University of Florida, Florida Gymnasium Room 5, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.



While studies have determined the importance of physical activity in advancing health outcomes, relatively few have explored the relationship between exercise and various health behaviors of adolescents. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between frequency and intensity of physical activity and both health risk and health promoting behaviors of adolescents.


Data were collected from 822 students attending a large, diverse suburban high school in northeast Florida using a self-administered survey. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests examined differences on mean health behavior measures on 3 exercise frequency levels (low, medium, and high) and 2 intensity levels (vigorous physical activity [VPA] and moderate physical activity [MPA]).


Results showed adolescents engaged in high levels of VPA used marijuana less frequently (p = .05) and reported heavy use of marijuana less frequently (p = .03); consumed greater numbers of healthy carbohydrates (p < .001) and healthy fats in their diets (p < .001); used stress management techniques more frequently (p < .001); and reported a higher quality of sleep (p = .01) than those engaged in low levels of VPA. Fewer differences were found on frequency of MPA and health behaviors of adolescents.


These findings suggest that adolescents who frequently participate in VPA may be less likely to engage in drug use, and more likely to participate in a number of health promoting behaviors. Longitudinal and experimental studies are needed to determine what role frequent VPA may play in the onset and maintenance of health enhancing and protecting behaviors among adolescent populations.

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