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Maintaining participation in physical activity during the transition from adolescence to adulthood: a mixed methods study


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Jose, K 2014 , 'Maintaining participation in physical activity during the transition from adolescence to adulthood: a mixed methods study', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Background: Levels of PA commonly decline during adolescence. Some individuals do
remain active through adolescence into young adulthood (16-25 years); however, the
factors supporting their ongoing participation during this transitional life stage are poorly
understood. A greater understanding of the factors that facilitate maintenance of PA
levels during this life stage will make a valuable contribution to the fields of public health
and PA studies and aid in the development of health promotion activities that promote
regular participation in PA by young people.
Aims: This Australian study examines the role of PA in the lives of young people,
particularly those who remain engaged in regular PA as they transitioned from
adolescence to adulthood. It explores the influence of childhood factors as well as
current life circumstances on participation levels.
Methods: This is a multiphase mixed methods study. Phase one used data from the
Childhood Determinants of Adulthood Study (CDAH), an Australian population based
prospective cohort, to examine the associations between sociodemographic, behavioural,
sociocultural, psychological, emotional, cognitive and physical factors measured in
childhood and adolescence with PA behavior during the transition from adolescence to
adulthood. Focus groups were conducted with fifty young people aged 16 – 26 years to
explore how young people speak about PA and changes since leaving high school. In
phase two, following analysis of CDAH and focus group data, semi-structured interviews
were conducted with 24 young people aged 16 - 25 years. Interviewees also completed
the International PA Questionnaire and were asked to complete a weekly pedometer
Results: The most common pattern of PA behaviour was one of fluctuating participation.
Childhood factors such as sports competency and cardiorespiratory fitness as well as
sociocultural factors predicted maintenance of PA for males and females. Two distinct
subgroups of PA maintainers were identified, with one group characterised by above
average childhood competency and diversity of childhood PA experiences. PA was central
to members of this groups’ sense of identity. The second group were characterised by
supportive sociocultural factors and current life circumstances. Maintenance of PA for both groups was concomitant with valuing PA for a combination of extrinsic
(relationships, health/fitness) and intrinsic (physical challenge, time out) factors. These
values were consistent with this transitional life stage, but also fluid and dynamic, altering
according to the type of activity undertaken and with changes to life circumstances.
Sex differences were found across all elements of the study, including childhood
predictors of PA, perceptions of PA and type of PA undertaken, but no clear patterns
were discernible for socioeconomic status or education. Geographic location impacted
the type of activities undertaken as well as the frequency.
Conclusion: The value placed on participation appeared critical for maintenance of PA
during this transitional life stage. Competency, social support from family, friends and
other adults as well as opportunities provided by schools and colleges also contributed to
maintenance of PA.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Jose, K
Keywords: Physical activity, Transitions, Mixed methods, Adolescence, Exercise, Young adults, Walking
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