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Does sports club participation contribute to physical activity among children and adolescents? A comparison across six European countries.

  • Kokko, Sami1
  • Martin, Leena1
  • Geidne, Susanna2
  • Van Hoye, Aurelie3
  • Lane, Aoife4
  • Meganck, Jeroen5
  • Scheerder, Jeroen6
  • Seghers, Jan5
  • Villberg, Jari1
  • Kudlacek, Michal7
  • Badura, Petr8
  • Mononen, Kaisu9
  • Blomqvist, Minna9
  • De Clercq, Bart10
  • Koski, Pasi11
  • 1 Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 2 School of Health Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 3 APEMAC, University of Lorraine, France. , (France)
  • 4 Department of Sport and Health Science, Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland. , (Ireland)
  • 5 Department of Movement Sciences, Physical Activity, Sports & Health Research Group, KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 6 Department of Movement Sciences, Policy in Sports & Physical Activity Research Group, KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 7 Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Palacký University, Czech Republic. , (Czechia)
  • 8 Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University, Czech Republic. , (Czechia)
  • 9 KIHU - Research Institute for Olympic Sports, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 10 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 11 Department of Teacher Education, University of Turku, Finland. , (Finland)
Published Article
Scandinavian journal of public health
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2019
DOI: 10.1177/1403494818786110
PMID: 29999480


Aims: Insufficient physical activity (PA) is one of the largest public health challenges of our time and requires a multisectoral public-health response. PA recommendations state that all children and adolescents should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) daily and carry out vigorous PA (VPA) three times weekly. While participation in sports club activities is known to enhance the probability of reaching the recommended overall PA level, less is known about the contribution of sports club participation to VPA, and few cross-national comparisons have been carried out. The purpose of this paper is to study whether participation in sports club activities is associated with meeting the overall PA and VPA recommendations among children and adolescents across six European countries, namely Belgium (Flanders), Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ireland and Sweden. Methods: Analyses were carried out on existing self-reported national data sets using descriptive statistics and logistic regression. Results: Results indicate that approximately two-thirds of children and adolescents take part in sports club activities in the given countries. Sports club participants were more likely to meet the overall PA recommendations (OR 2.4-6.4) and VPA recommendation (OR 2.8-5.0) than non-participants. Conclusions: The extent to which overall PA and/or VPA is gained through sports club participation versus other settings needs to be further studied. Nonetheless, it can be argued that sports clubs have an important position in PA promotion for younger populations.

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