Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Alicia Fedewa

Second Advisor

Dr. H. Thompson Prout


Insufficient physical activity is a serious concern for the youth of this nation. In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents could be classified as either obese or overweight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are two major factors contributing to this epidemic. A physically active lifestyle during youth not only improves physical health, but has also been shown to improve emotional health, behavior, and academic performance. It is important that this area of research is continued and expanded so appropriate educational policies that support the health and well-being of America’s youth can be established. No research to date has explored the long term impact of physical activity levels in adolescence on educational outcomes in adulthood. The purpose of this proposed study is to address this research gap by investigating the longitudinal relationships between physical activity in adolescence and physical activity in adulthood, educational ambition, and educational attainment. In order to achieve these research goals, secondary analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was analyzed. Results revealed that higher levels of physical activity during adolescence are associated with higher levels of physical activity during young adulthood. Higher levels of physical activity during adolescence were also negligibly and weakly correlated to higher levels of academic ambition and later academic attainment. A discussion of the results and the limitations of the current study follow.