The role of physical activity enjoyment in the pathways from the social and physical environments to physical activity of early adolescent girls


Most girls experience a notable decline in physical activity (PA) in early adolescence, increasing their risk for harmful health outcomes. Enjoyment for PA (i.e., positive feelings toward PA) is a determinant of PA among girls during adolescence and sustained PA throughout adulthood. Previous studies recommended increasing girls’ PA enjoyment in order to increase their PA, but did not include environmental-level strategies for how families, schools, or communities do this. To gain insight on such strategies, this study examines the role of PA enjoyment as a mediator of social and physical environments to moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA of early adolescent girls. Cross-sectional, secondary analyses, using structural equation modeling, were conducted on a U.S. national dataset of 1721 sixth grade girls from the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls in 2003. Mediation model fit parameters included χ2 (292, N = 1721) = 947.73 p < 0.001, CFI = 0.95, RMSEA = 0.04 (90% CI = 0.03, 0.04), and SRMR = 0.037 suggesting overall good fit. There were no indirect effects on PA through PA enjoyment from the social or physical environmental factors. To PA, there were significant direct effects only from social support from friends (β = 0.15, CI = 0.09, 0.22). To PA enjoyment, there were significant direct effects from social support from family (β = 0.15, CI = 0.08, 0.23), school climate (teachers β = 0.15, CI = 0.10, 0.21 and boys β = 0.15, CI = 0.09, 0.20), and neighborhood environment (β = 0.10, CI = 0.04, 0.17). The findings of this study identified several direct effects of the social and physical environment on PA enjoyment that can begin to inform environmental-level strategies for increasing PA enjoyment among early adolescent girls.


Elizabeth L.Budd, AmyMcQueen, Amy A.Eyler, DebraHaire-Joshu, Wendy F.Auslander, Ross C.Brownson

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