Effects of a life skills intervention for increasing physical activity in adolescent girls

Deborah Rohm Young, Jennie A. Phillips, Tao Yu, Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background: Although adolescence is a time when physical activity levels decline, few interventions have targeted high school-aged girls in the school setting. Objective: To evaluate the effects of a life skills-oriented physical activity intervention for increasing overall physical activity in high school-aged girls. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Baltimore magnet high school. Participants: A total of 221 ninth-grade girls, 83.0% of whom were African American. Intervention: Participants were randomized to an 8-month physical intervention conducted in physical education class or to a standard physical education class (control). Main Outcome Measures: Self-reported estimated daily energy expenditure (physical activity), self-reported sedentary activities (television viewing and computer or Internet use), cardiorespiratory fitness, and selected cardiovascular disease risk factors. Results: Intervention classes spent 46.9% of physical education class time in moderate to vigorous activity compared with 30.5% of time for control classes (P<.001). There were no significant between-treatment group differences for mean daily energy expenditure (P=.93), moderate-intensity energy expenditure (P=.77), or hard to very hard energy expenditure (P=.69). The proportion of participants who spent 3 or more hours viewing television during school days declined from 22.3% to 17.0% in the intervention group, but remained at 26.7% for the control group (P=.03). Both groups improved their cardiorespiratory fitness (P<.001). Conclusion: A life skills-oriented physical education curriculum may need to be combined with other approaches to increase the magnitude of effects on physical activity behavior in predominantly African American high school-aged girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1255-1261
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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