The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.
Three out of every four teens aren’t getting enough exercise, and this lack is even more pronounced among female students.
But new research from the University of Georgia suggests improving a school’s climate can increase physical activity among adolescents.
School environments play a critical role in helping children develop healthy behaviors, like creating healthy eating habits, said lead study author Janani R. Thapa. And the same goes for physical activity.
“The length of recess, physical facilities, and social environments at schools have been found to affect physical activity among students,” said Thapa, an associate professor of health policy and management at UGA’s College of Public Health.
Using data from a statewide survey of over 360,000 Georgia high school students that included questions about physical activity levels and school climate, Thapa and her co-authors were able to test that relationship.
The data included eight characteristics of climate: school connectedness, peer social support, adult social support, cultural acceptance, physical environment, school safety, peer victimization (bullying), and school support environment.
Overall, female students reported less physical activity than their male counterparts, only 35% were active compared to 57% of males. And physical activity declined steadily from ninth grade to 12th grade for both genders.
However, students of both genders were more physically active when the school climate was perceived to be positive across most measures.