Age-Related Change in Physical Activity in Adolescent Girls

Russell R. Pate, June Stevens, Larry S. Webber, Marsha Dowda, David M. Murray, Deborah R. Young, Scott Going

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine the annual rate at which physical activity changes in girls during middle school using both objective and self-report measures of physical activity. Methods: Participants were sixth- and eighth-grade girls from the control schools in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (TAAG). Random cross-sectional samples initially were drawn from sixth-grade girls (n = 786) and 2 years later from eighth-grade girls (n = 1545). A cohort of 501 girls was in both the sixth- and the eighth-grade samples. The girls wore an accelerometer for 6 days and completed the 3-Day Physical Activity Recall. Data were summarized using 3.0-, 4.6-, and 6.5-metabolic equivalent cutpoints for accelerometry and self-reported physical activity. Analyses were performed using repeated-measures analysis of variance in PROC MIXED. Results: More than 40% of the girls were white, approximately 20% were African American, and 20% were Hispanic. The annual percent decrease in physical activity in the cross-sectional sample was approximately 4% (-1.76 min moderate-to-vigorous physical activity/day), using accelerometer data. The percent decrease in physical activity based on self-report data was higher, 6% to 13%, depending on the physical activity variable. Declines tended to be larger in African American girls, but the ethnic differences were not statistically significant. Conclusions: Based on comparisons of cross-sectional samples of sixth- and eighth-grade girls, objectively measured physical activity declined at a rate of 4% per year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Accelerometry
  • Adolescents
  • Girls
  • Middle school
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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