Can participation in sports during childhood influence physical activity in adulthood?

Abstract Aims: The promotion of sports participation during the early years of life is important not only because it promotes health during childhood and adolescence, but also because it has benefits in adulthood. This study was developed to identify the association between sports participation during the early years of life and adulthood, to analyze the non-participation in sports throughout life and to identify the correlates of non-participation in sports. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. Methods: The sample was composed of 743 adults randomly selected in a medium-size Brazilian city. Non-participation in sports during childhood and adolescence was assessed through specific questions, and non-participation in sports in adulthood was assessed using the second section of Baecke questionnaire. Answering “no” in the three periods assessed (childhood, adolescence and adulthood) was characterized as non-participation in sports throughout life. Chronological age, sex, formal education, BMI, current job and ethnicity were considered covariates. Categorical data were expressed as rates and compared using chi-square test and binary logistic regression. Results: The prevalence of adults not engaged in sports throughout life was 58.5% (95% CI= 55.1 - 62.1). Females (OR = 2.41 [1.71 - 3.38]), those more advanced in age (OR = 3.29 [1.82-5.94]) and/or possessing a lower level of education (OR = 4.47 [2.45 - 8.17]) were associated with the non-engagement in sports. Conclusion: Non-participation in sports during childhood can influence non-participation in sports during adulthood, which is significantly affected by sex, age and education level.