Regular physical activity has both short- and long-term health benefits in adults. No study has investigated childhood determinants of adult physical activity patterns, however. In a nonconcurrent prospective study, the physical activity levels of 453 young men, 23 to 25 years of age, were compared with their physical fitness test scores as children (10 to 11 years of age and 15 to 18 years of age). The physically active adults had significantly better childhood physical fitness test scores than did the inactive adults. In 224 children, 2 years of fitness test results were available. The risk of physical inactivity in young adulthood was linearly related to the number of low scores on the 548.6-m (600-yd) run and sit-ups tests as children (P < .001). In stepwise multivariate discriminant analysis, the childhood 548.6-m run score was the best discriminator between currently physically active and inactive adults. Reported parental encouragement of exercise, level of education, participation in organized sports after high school, and reported spousal encouragement of exercise also contributed significantly to the discriminant function. These results demonstrate that physical fitness testing in boys facilitates the identification of those at increased risk of becoming physically inactive young adults.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.