Active relatives and health-related physical fitness in European adolescents: The HELENA Study

Miguel Martín-Matillas, Francisco B. Ortega, Jonatan R. Ruiz, David Martínez-Gómez, Germán Vicente-Rodríguez, Ascensión Marcos, Laurent Béghin, Anthony Kafatos, Marcela González-Gross, Maria Zaccaria, Dénes Molnár, Stefaan de Henauw, Michael Sjöström, Luis A. Moreno, Manuel J. Castillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


High physical fitness in childhood and adolescence is positively associated with favourable health-related outcomes. Our aim was to examine the relationship between relatives' (father, mother, brother, sister, and best friend) physical activity engagement and encouragement on adolescents' physical fitness. Adolescents were part of the HELENA study, a multi-centre study conducted in 10 cities from nine European countries in 2006-2008. Participants were 3288 adolescents (48% boys, 52% girls) aged 12.5-17.5 years with valid data on at least one of the three fitness variables studied: muscular strength (standing long jump), speed/agility (4×10 m shuttle run), and cardiorespiratory fitness (20 m shuttle run). The adolescents reported their relatives' physical activity engagement and encouragement. Analysis of covariance showed that relatives' physical activity engagement (father, mother, brother, and best friend) was positively related to cardiorespiratory fitness (P < 0.05); and mother's and sisters' physical activity engagement were positively associated with higher muscular strength in adolescents (P < 0.05). Furthermore, father's physical activity encouragement was positively linked to physical fitness (all fitness components) in adolescents (P < 0.05). Interventions aimed at improving physical fitness in young people might be more successful when family members, particularly mothers and fathers, are encouraged to engage in physical activity and support adolescents' physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1335
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2012



  • Health-related fitness
  • adolescence
  • lifestyle
  • physical activity
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this

Martín-Matillas, M., Ortega, F. B., Ruiz, J. R., Martínez-Gómez, D., Vicente-Rodríguez, G., Marcos, A., Béghin, L., Kafatos, A., González-Gross, M., Zaccaria, M., Molnár, D., de Henauw, S., Sjöström, M., Moreno, L. A., & Castillo, M. J. (2012). Active relatives and health-related physical fitness in European adolescents: The HELENA Study. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(13), 1329-1335.