Background: Research consistently demonstrates that physical activity declines with age. However, such declines do not occur linearly. The...
Background: Research consistently demonstrates that physical activity declines with age. However, such declines do not occur linearly. The transition into early adulthood is one period where disproportionate declines in physical activity have been evident, but much of our understanding of such declines among young adults has been based on cross-sectional data or with prospective studies exclusively focused on college/university students.
Purpose & Methods: The purpose of the current study was to use multilevel modeling to discern patterns of physical activity based on gender and educational trajectory among a nationally-representative cohort of Canadian adolescents (N = 640). Examinations of smoking and binge drinking were also conducted as a basis for comparison. Drawn from seven cycles of the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), participants were interviewed every two years from 1994/1995 to 2006/2007; data analysis was conducted in 2010.
Results: A significant 3-way time by gender by educational trajectory interaction (coefficient = -0.189, SE= .09, p< .05) emerged in the physical activity analysis; while main effects in time2 (coefficient = -0.114, SE= .01, p< .01) and time3 (coefficient = 0.028, SE= .01, p< .01) were significant for binge drinking and smoking, respectively.
Conclusions: Physical activity decline was evident during young adults’ transition into early adulthood, with declines being steepest among males that entered college/university. Importantly, while there were increases in several health-risk behaviors during adolescence, individuals tend to mature-out of binge drinking and smoking; however, physical activity continued to decline in early adulthood.