Physical Activity and Rural Middle School Adolescents

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This study reports the self-reported physical activity level of rural adolescents. Eight hundred and twenty two middle school adolescents (M = 229, F = 593), mean age = 13.9 in three rural Indiana middle schools reported their participation in out-of-school physical activities over a 5 day period. Responses to the activity items were recoded into sedentary, active, and very active exercises and preferred types of exercise. Over one-third (36%) of adolescent males indicated participation in vigorous physical activity less than 2 times per week and almost half (42%) of females reported levels of activity below nationally recommended guidelines. Adolescent males reported more frequent engagement in strength exercises than females (33% and 25% respectively). Over one third of males and females (35%) reported stretching three or more times each week. Significant differences were found between males and females satisfaction with their present body weight such that 21% of males and 44% of females indicated dissatisfaction with their present body weight. Males and females both reported a preference for active team sports such as volleyball, football, softball, and individual activities such as weight training, bicycling, and swimming. The levels of reported activity reflect national survey findings, indicating that many adolescents may not be involved in the recommended levels and that exercise behaviors of rural adolescents may be similar to those in urban areas.

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