Publication: Physical Activity of Adolescents with and without Disabilities – School Health Promotion Study 2017

Research Impact:  The global action plan on physical activity (GAPPA) has a target to reduce physical inactivity by 10% in 2025 and by 15% in 2030. Health promotion activities that target individuals who are insufficiently active and support their transition into being active is highly recommended. In this study, a complete enumeration study (n=128,803) was carried out to report physical activity levels of adolescents with and without disabilities, to report gender differences in physical activity of those who are either inactive or insufficiently active, and to report the differences by disability. One in ten males had disabilities whereas many more females (17%) reported similar difficulties. The results support previous literature that there are more males (19%) who are physically active than females (13%), as well as fewer adolescents with disabilities meet the physical activity recommendations. However, of the adolescents who were inactive or insufficiently active. the difference in gender disappeared. Females reported more days of physical activity than boys, although the differences were trivial. This may have been attributed to the national “Schools on the Move” programme (Liikkuva Koulu in Finnish) that was piloted in 2010-2014 as well as the growing polarisation of males in sport or playing computer games for their leisure time activities. In addition, adolescents with a lot of difficulties in, or cannot do walking, reported over a day less of physical activity than adolescents without disabilities. In addition, adolescents with cognitive difficulties reported low levels of physical activity. With an association between disabilities and attendance in vocational schools, specific targeted interventions would need to continue with these particular target groups as well as continued measures to monitor over time.

Ng, K., Sainio, P., & Sit, C. Physical Activity of Adolescents with and without Disabilities from a Complete Enumeration Study (n = 128,803): School Health Promotion Study 2017. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 201916, 3156.  DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16173156

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