Decline in physical activity during adolescence is not associated with changes in mental health

Martin L. Van Dijk*, Hans H. C. M. Savelberg, Peter Verboon, Paul A. Kirschner, Renate H. M. De Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The majority of studies investigating associations between physical activity and mental health in adolescents have been cross-sectional in design. Potential associations between physical activity and mental health may be better examined longitudinally as physical activity levels tend to decrease in adolescence. Few studies have investigated these associations longitudinally in adolescents and none by measuring physical activity objectively. Methods: A total of 158 Dutch adolescents (mean age 13.6 years, 38.6 % boys, grades 7 and 9 at baseline) participated in this longitudinal study. Physical activity, depressive symptoms and self-esteem were measured at baseline and at the 1-year follow-up. Physical activity was objectively measured with an ActivPAL3 (TM) accelerometer during one full week. Depressive symptoms were measured with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and self-esteem was assessed with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE). Results were analysed using structural equation modelling. Results: Physical activity levels decreased 15.3 % over a 1-year period (p
Original languageEnglish
Article number300
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2016


  • The GOALS study
  • Exercise
  • Accelerometry
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Self-esteem
  • Youth

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