International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 315–324 | Cite as

Factors associated with physical activity among Canadian high school students

  • Carly LeggettEmail author
  • Melinda Irwin
  • Jane Griffith
  • Lin Xue
  • Katherine Fradette
Original Article



Identifying multi-level factors affecting physical activity (PA) levels among adolescents is essential to increasing activity to promote health within this population. This study examines the associations between PA and 11 independent factors among Manitoba high school students.


The sample included 31,202 grade 9–12 students who completed the Manitoba Youth Health Survey. Associations between PA and independent factors were examined separately and through multivariate regression. Analyses were stratified by gender.


Perception of athletic ability, school location, parental encouragement and number of active friends were strong predictors of activity for moderately active and active males and females. Grade was a significant predictor of PA for females at both levels of activity but only significant for males when comparing active to inactive students. Perception of schoolwork and means of transport were minimally associated with PA.


Results highlight the importance of targeting multiple levels of influence to increase PA among youth. Programs should focus on older students, females and those who are inactive or moderately active. In addition, social modeling of PA and increasing self-efficacy around activity should be encouraged.


Physical activity Adolescents Canada High school Risk factors 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Manitoba Regional Health Authorities, Partners in Planning for Healthy Living, the Yale School of Public Health and CancerCare Manitoba for their support during this research. In addition, we would like to thank survey participants for their willingness to participate along with all school staff who helped to make this survey a success.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no known conflict of interest with regards to this research.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carly Leggett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melinda Irwin
    • 2
  • Jane Griffith
    • 3
  • Lin Xue
    • 4
  • Katherine Fradette
    • 4
  1. 1.Epidemiology and Cancer RegistryCancerCare ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Yale School of Public HealthNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, CancerCare ManitobaUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  4. 4.CancerCare ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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