Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Social Work

Additional Affiliations

Brown School of Social Work

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In 2013, only 27.1 % of adolescents (age 10-19) met the daily physical activity (PA) recommendations of 60 minutes of PA a day. 1 Inactivity is highly prevalent among youth and especially prevalent among adolescents. This inactivity can have harmful and costly, immediate and long-term repercussions on physical, mental, and social health.28 Health behaviors throughout childhood, including PA, are predictive of health behaviors throughout adulthood.9 Girls experience the steepest decline in PA in early adolescence compared to boys and any other age group, which positions them on a lifelong trajectory of inactivity and increased risk for disease.2,4 Among early adolescent girls, those of a minority race/ethnicity, low socioeconomic status, and who are overweight experience even greater declines in PA and are the least active of their age group.1012 Enjoyment for PA (i.e., positive feelings toward PA) is a critical determinant of PA among girls during adolescence and sustained PA throughout adulthood.1315 However, studies have not yet examined the role of PA enjoyment in models of the effects of social (e.g., friend and familial social support) and physical (e.g., neighborhood characteristics) environments

on the PA of early adolescent girls (Aim 1), and how these pathways may differ by race, socioeconomic status, and body fat percentage (Aim 2). This study tests these aims through secondary data analysis of the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls, a diverse, national dataset of 1,721 early adolescent girls.16,17 Accompanied by other studies on PA enjoyment and PA, the findings of this study can inform strategies and programs for increasing PA enjoyment and PA among adolescent girls. Fostering social support from friends may be a priority strategy for PA promotion among girls who are Non-Hispanic White. Building a supportive neighborhood environment and training teachers on how to facilitate a supportive school environment may be key factors for promoting PA enjoyment among sub-groups of girls at the highest risk for inactivity (e.g., Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, low SES, or above average body fat percentage). Longitudinal research that examines the full causal model of pathways to PA enjoyment and PA by sub-groups of early adolescent girls is needed.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Ross Brownson

Committee Members

Wendy Auslander, Amy Eyler, Debra Haire-Joshu, Amy McQueen,


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K72B8W94