The inter-relatedness, and demographic predictors of physical activity, self-rated health, and mental well-being: A three-wave study in secondary school children

Paul Donnelly, Colm Healy, Kyle Paradis, Peter Horgan, Michael McKay

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Abstract

Introduction. The World Health Organisation recommends that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. Previous research has shown that physical activity is related to other constructs such as, mental well-being, and self-rated health. This study examined the inter-relatedness of these constructs in Northern Irish school children. Methods. This study was a secondary analysis of data gathered as part of a longitudinal study. Participants were n = 1,791 adolescents in their final years of secondary (high) school (age range 15-18; Female = 64.6%). Data were gathered on three occasions over a two-year period on: self-rated health; physical activity; mental well-being; heavy episodic drinking; lifetime smoking; psychological and somatic symptoms; as well as a range of socio-demographic measures. Results. Descriptive results showed extremely low levels of self-reported physical activity within the past week, with < 6% of the sample attaining the WHO guidelines at each wave of data collection. There were significant gender differences on all variables assessed. Results further showed a small-sized relationship (statistically significant for girls only) between physical activity and mental well-being. There was also a small-sized relationship between physical activity and self-rated health. Notably, effect sizes for the relationship between self-rated health and both physical activity and mental well-being were higher. In terms of socio-demographic predictors of lower physical activity, being female, lifetime cigarette smoking, and higher somatic and psychological symptoms, were all statistically significant factors. Conclusion. Self-rated health emerged as the most important predictor of physical activity among adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Early online date15 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 15 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • physical activity
  • self-rated health
  • mental well-being
  • secondary school age

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