Background: Inactivity and low levels of physical activity are predisposing factors to many chronic diseases such as heart disease which are showing an increase in prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa generally and Nigeria in particular. Physical activity levels have been found to be decreasing among young people in many countries around the world resulting in a state where young people are not found to be sufficiently active in order to safeguard their present and future health and well-being.
Objective: This study was designed to assess the physical activity levels of students in governmentowned senior secondary schools located in the South-east Municipality, Ibadan, Western Nigeria, and its association with their physical characteristics and level of study.
Subjects and Method: Multi-stage sampling was used to select participants from senior secondary schools. A modified version of the self-reported physical activity questionnaire for adolescents (PAQA) validated for Nigerian adolescents was used for data collection. One thousand and two questionnaires were distributed to the respondents. The questionnaire was designed to collect the respondents’ demographic data and assess their physical activity levels. One thousand (1000) questionnaires were completed. Two of the 1002 questionnaires were not properly completed and were therefore discarded. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics of mean, standard deviation and cumulative percentage. A table was used to present the results. The chi-square test was used to determine the association between physical activity levels and the physical characteristics of the participants. Independent t-test was used to determine the difference in the physical activity levels of the participants.
Results: The results indicated that 38% of the participants engaged in low activity levels, 58.8% in moderate activity levels and 3.2% in high activity levels. Furthermore, physical activity levels (PAL) had significant positive associations with the physical characteristics of the participants and males appeared to be significantly more active than females.
Conclusion: Adolescents are not involved in adequate physical activities that could safeguard their present and future health and well-being. Therefore, it is recommended that there should be educational programmes in place which emphasize the benefits of exercise, primordial prevention of future chronic and cardiovascular diseases and also the incorporation of physical education in the secondary school curriculum.