Department of Economics and Business Economics

Longitudinal association between physical activity engagement during adolescence and mental health outcomes in young adults: A 21-year birth cohort study

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  • Shuichi Suetani, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Wacol, Australia; Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia; Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services, Brisbane, Australia. Electronic address: shuichi.suetani@health.qld.gov.au.
  • ,
  • Abdullah Mamun, Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland, Indooroopilly, Australia.
  • ,
  • Gail M Williams, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston, Australia.
  • ,
  • Jake M Najman, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston, Australia; School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.
  • ,
  • John J McGrath
  • James G Scott, The University of Queensland, UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia; Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Wacol, QLD 4076, Australia; Metro North Mental Health, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia. Electronic address: james.scott@health.qld.gov.au.

OBJECTIVE: Previous studies provide mixed evidence that physical activity engagement (PAE) in adolescence is associated with later mental health outcomes. This study aimed to examine the association between PAE at age 14 and mental health outcomes at age 21 using a large birth cohort study.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Prospective data from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy, consisting of 3493 young adults, were analyzed. PAE at age 14 was estimated using self-report, and participants were categorized into; (1) frequent, (2) infrequent, or (3) no PAE group. Mental health outcomes at age 21 consisted of; (1) common mental disorders, (2) psychosis-related outcomes, and, (3) emotional and behavioral problems. The association between PAE in adolescence and later mental health outcomes in young adulthood was examined using logistic regression, adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, and adolescent psychopathology.

RESULTS: No PAE at age 14 was associated with the increased likelihood of lifetime diagnosis of any affective disorder, elevated delusional ideation, and endorsement of visual perceptual disturbance at age 21. Conversely, infrequent PAE at age 14 was associated with the decreased likelihood of subsequent lifetime diagnosis of any substance use disorder.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that lack of PAE in adolescence influences some, but not all, later mental health outcomes. Interventions to increase PAE in adolescence may represent an opportunity to prevent future mental health problems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume94
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
ISSN0022-3956
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

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