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Objectives: This study compared physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and other health indicators between 1381 employed and nonemployed 12th grade girls.

Methods: The girls were from 22 high schools in South Carolina (2002-2003); 56% of the girls were African American, and the mean age was 17.7 (0.6) years. Physical activity and sedentary behaviors were measured using the 3-Day Physical Activity Recall (3DPAR). Fitness, depressive symptoms, and smoking behavior were assessed.

Results: Fifty percent of the girls were employed, and on average, employed girls worked 9.6 30-minute blocks per day. Girls who worked reported significantly (p≤0.001) higher average total metabolic equivalents (METs) (mean [M] 66.4, SE 0.5) than girls who did not work (M 59.5, SE 0.5). Also, a higher percent of girls who worked reported 2+ blocks of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (89.3%), and fewer (20.2%) reported 4+ blocks of electronic media (EM) compared with girls who did not work (MVPA 62.7%, EM 41.7%). After on-the-job activity was subtracted, total METs for girls who worked was reduced to 48.0 (SE 0.4), and only 48.5% reported 2 or more blocks on average of MVPA. No significant differences (p>0.05) were found between girls who reported working (W) and those who did not (NW) for body mass index (BMI) (W: M 25.2, SE 0.2; NW: M 24.6, SE 0.2), depression scores (W: M 14.4, SE 0.5); NW: M 14.4, SE 0.5), fitness (W: M 11.3 kg ● m/min/kg, SE 0.2; NW: M 11.7 kg ● m/min/kg, SE 0.2), or smoking during the past 30 days (W: 18.5%; NW: 17.4%).

Conclusions: Nearly one third of employed high school girls' total physical activity occurred while they were at work. Employed girls also spent less time using electronic media. Employment was not associated with fitness, smoking, or depressive symptoms in 12th grade girls.


Dowda, M., Pfeiffer, K. A., Dishman, R. K., & Pate, R. R. (2007). Associations among physical activity, health indicators, and employment in 12th grade girls. Journal of Women's Health, 16(9), 1331-1339.

DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2006.0302

© Journal of Women's Health, 2007, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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