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An examination of school- and student-level characteristics associated with the likelihood of students’ meeting the Canadian physical activity guidelines in the COMPASS study

Amanda Harvey, Guy Faulkner, Lora Giangregorio, Scott T. Leatherdale


OBJECTIVES: To examine school- and student-level correlates of physical activity.

METHODS: Cross-sectional Year 2 data collected from 45 298 grade 9–12 students attending 89 secondary schools in the COMPASS study were examined using multi-level modelling to predict the likelihood of students a) achieving 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) daily; and b) achieving the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) activity guideline for youth (60 minutes/MVPA daily, vigorous physical activity at least three days in a week, and resistance training at least three days in a week).

RESULTS: The prevalence of students achieving 60 minutes of MVPA daily and meeting the CSEP guideline was 49.3% and 31.0% respectively. Modest between-school variability was identified (1.1% for 60 minutes MVPA and 0.8% for CSEP guideline). School-level characteristics significantly associated with the outcome measures included location, school size, quality of facilities, and accessibility of facilities. Significant student-level correlates included sex, grade, weekly income, binge drinking, fruit and vegetable consumption, and body mass index.

CONCLUSIONS: Most youth in this large study reported inadequate physical activity levels. Students were more likely to achieve 60 minutes of MVPA if they attended a larger school or a school in an urban location, whereas students were less likely to meet the CSEP guideline if they attended a school in a small urban location. However, student-level factors, such as binge drinking and inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, were more strongly associated with the outcomes examined.


Physical activity; adolescent; schools; environment design

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