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Longitudinal associations between sports participation, body composition and physical activity from childhood to adolescence

Basterfield, Laura and Reilly, Jessica K. and Pearce, Mark S. and Parkinson, Kathryn N. and Adamson, Ashley J. and Reilly, John J. and Vella, Stewart A. (2015) Longitudinal associations between sports participation, body composition and physical activity from childhood to adolescence. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 8 (2). pp. 178-182. ISSN 1878-1861

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Abstract

Several important research questions have been addressed: (1) What are the cross-sectional associations between sports club participation, objectively measured physical activity, and adiposity? (2) Do measures of physical activity and adiposity predict subsequent sports club participation? (3) Does sports club participation predict subsequent measures of physical activity and adiposity? and (4) Do changes in sports club participation predict changes in objective measures of physical activity and adiposity?  Longitudinal and cross-sectional design.  Data from the Gateshead Millennium Study birth cohort (n=609 at age 7 years) were analysed for associations between adiposity, sports club participation and accelerometer-measured physical activity from ages 7y to 9y to 12y.  Seventy-two per cent of 9 year olds and 63% of 12 year olds took part in a sports club. Sports club participation was significantly associated with overall accelerometer-measured physical activity at 12y (coefficient=0.0.09; 95% CI: 0.01-0.16) but not 9y. An inverse relationship between fat mass (estimated from bioelectric impedance) and sport club participation, and between fat mass and accelerometer-measured physical activity was observed at 12y, but not 9y. Sports club participation at 9y was highly predictive of participation at 12y. Sports club participation was significantly associated with socioeconomic status; fewer children from poorer areas took part.  Sports club participation in adolescence may be associated with decreased levels of adiposity. Furthermore, the potential benefits of sports club participation for adiposity are likely generated from continuous participation in sports, rather than any long-term protective effects.