Adolescent's physical activity levels and relatives' physical activity engagement and encouragement: The HELENA study

Miguel Martín-Matillas, Francisco B. Ortega, Jonatan R. Ruiz, David Martínez-Gómez, Ascensión Marcos, Diego Moliner-Urdiales, Angela Polito, Raquel Pedrero-Chamizo, Laurent Béghin, Dénes Molnár, Anthony Kafatos, Luis A. Moreno, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Michael Sjöström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The aim of this article is to examine the association between adolescents' physical activity (PA) levels and their relatives' (father, mother, brothers, sisters and best friend) PA engagement and encouragement. Methods: Adolescents (52.3 girls) aged 12.5-17.5 years were gathered from the HELENA study. Adolescents' PA levels were assessed by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents (valid data on 3007 participants) and accelerometry (valid data on 2200 participants). Relatives' engagement and encouragement were reported by the adolescents and encoded into three categories (low, middle and high). Results: Analysis of covariance showed that relatives' PA encouragement was more strongly associated with adolescents' PA levels than relatives' PA engagement. Pairwise comparisons indicated that the higher the encouragement level (from most relatives) the higher the adolescent's PA levels. This finding was overall consistent when using self-report or objective methods for assessing adolescents' PA levels, yet the associations were stronger when using self-report methods. Conclusions: These findings highlight the important role of social encouragement on adolescents' PA levels. Community interventions aiming to enhance PA levels in the adolescent population might be more successful when family and peers are also targeted. The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-712
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011



  • adolescence
  • lifestyle
  • physical activity
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Martín-Matillas, M., Ortega, F. B., Ruiz, J. R., Martínez-Gómez, D., Marcos, A., Moliner-Urdiales, D., Polito, A., Pedrero-Chamizo, R., Béghin, L., Molnár, D., Kafatos, A., Moreno, L. A., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., & Sjöström, M. (2011). Adolescent's physical activity levels and relatives' physical activity engagement and encouragement: The HELENA study. European journal of public health, 21(6), 705-712.