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Exercise and Substance Use Among American Youth, 1991–2009

Key Message

Higher levels of exercise were associated with lower levels of alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use. Exercise and athletic team participation worked synergistically in lowering cigarette and marijuana use.

Source

Terry-McElrath, Yvonne M.,O'Malley, Patrick M, and Johnston, Lloyd D. (2011). Exercise and Substance Use Among American Youth, 1991–2009. 40 (5): 530-540. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2010.12.021

Purpose

This paper examines the relationships between (1) secondary school student substance use and (2) exercise in general and school athletic team participation, and examines such relationships over time.

Nationally representative cross-sectional samples of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students were surveyed each year from 1991 to 2009. Substance use measures included past 2-week binge drinking and past 30-day alcohol, cigarette, smokeless tobacco, marijuana, and steroid use. Analyses were conducted during 2009–2010.
Results

Evidence

Across grades, higher levels of exercise were associated with lower levels of alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use. Higher levels of athletic team participation were associated with higher levels of smokeless tobacco use and lower levels of cigarette and marijuana use across grades and to higher levels of high school alcohol and steroid use. Exercise helped suppress the undesired relationship between team participation and alcohol use; exercise and athletic team participation worked synergistically in lowering cigarette and marijuana use. Observed relationships were generally stable across time.

There appear to be substantive differences between exercise and team sport participation in relation to adolescent substance use.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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