Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 45–51 | Cite as

Factors Influencing Physical Activity Levels Among Canadian Youth

  • Joan Wharf HigginsEmail author
  • Catherine Gaul
  • Sandra Gibbons
  • Geraldine Van Gyn


Objectives: To describe the predisposing, enabling and reinforcing factors influencing the levels of physical activity among Canadian youth (ages 12–24).

Methods: Analyses of the 1996–97 National Population Health Survey (NPHS) were conducted using data collected from female (n=6195) and male (n=5925) Canadians aged 12–24 years. The data were analyzed using correlational, ANOVA and regression procedures with post hoc analyses (Bonferroni) employed where applicable.

Results: Compared to males, Canadian female youth were found to be less physically active, more concerned about being overweight, more depressed, and to consult mental health professionals more frequently. On the other hand, females were more likely to report greater social support than males and to be more socially involved. Those adolescents who smoke tend to be less physically active and, along with those who consume alcohol, have poorer health.

Discussion: The significant predisposing, enabling and reinforcing factors influencing youths’ physical activity levels more profoundly affect females. The results are discussed in terms of strategies for enabling physical activity available in the literature. In addition to individual determinants influencing physical activity, a move toward understanding policy and environmental factors is recommended for further research.


Objectifs: Décrire les facteurs de prédisposition, d’incitation et de renforcement qui influencent les niveaux d’activité physique des jeunes Canadiens (12 à 24 ans).

Méthode: Par corrélation, analyse de la variance et régression, on a analysé les données sur les filles (n=6 195) et les garçons (n=5 925) canadiens de 12 à 24 ans publiées dans l’Enquête nationale sur la santé de la population (1996–1997), en effectuant des analyses ultérieures (Bonferroni) le cas échéant.

Résultats: Par rapport aux garçons, les filles canadiennes font moins d’activité physique, sont plus préoccupées par l’embonpoint et plus déprimées, et consultent plus souvent des professionnels de la santé mentale. Par contre, elles sont plus susceptibles que les garçons d’avoir un bon réseau de soutien social et une vie sociale remplie. Les fumeurs adolescents font proportionnellement moins d’activité physique et, comme ceux qui consomment de l’alcool, ont tendance à être en moins bonne santé.

Débat: Les importants facteurs de prédisposition, d’incitation et de renforcement qui influencent les niveaux d’activité physique des jeunes touchent plus particulièrement les filles. Ces résultats sont expliqués à la lumière des stratégies d’encouragement de l’activité physique décrites dans la documentation disponible. En plus de s’attacher aux différents déterminants de l’activité physique, on recommande de pousser la recherche sur les facteurs politiques et environnementaux qui pourraient être en cause.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Wharf Higgins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catherine Gaul
    • 1
  • Sandra Gibbons
    • 1
  • Geraldine Van Gyn
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Physical EducationVictoriaCanada

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