University of Pittsburgh
April 14, 2005

Pitt Professor Receives NIH Grant to Study Physical Activity and Health Behaviors, from Adolescence through Adulthood

Researcher Deborah Aaron will continue study begun in 1990 with teenagers from Woodland Hills School District
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Deborah Aaron, an associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Health and Physical Activity in the School of Education, has received an NIH grant to continue "University of Pittsburgh Physical Activity Study" (PittPAS), a research study begun in 1990 of a group of individuals in the Woodland Hills School District. She hopes to learn how physical activity and other health behaviors change as people move from adolescence through adulthood.

Aaron is an exercise physiologist and epidemiologist. Her PittPAS study examines whether physical activity during childhood and adolescence has any influence on people's physical activity in adulthood. When the new project is completed in 2009, she will have nearly 20 years of data on a large group of individuals, making it one of the longest follow-up studies of physical activity in the United States covering the time span of adolescence through adulthood.

In phase one of the original 1990 study, 1245 Woodland Hills students, ages 12 to 18, participated. Aaron received funding in 1999 to contact the original group and from 2000 to 2004 collected additional data on more than 800 of them.

At a 2002 meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, Aaron presented PittPAS preliminary data reporting that over a 10-year period, from early adolescence to young adulthood, physical activity decreased by 43 percent primarily because of decreases in high intensity physical activity and team sport activity.

This newly funded longitudinal study will follow 848 of the same cohort into their early 30s, and continue to observe their natural history of change in physical activity. Data, including metabolic, cardiovascular, and perceptual responses to an exercise stimulus, will be collected at two time points approximately two years apart. Subjects also will complete a questionnaire to assess their current physical activity. In addition, a one-on-one interview with participants will be conducted to identify factors that contributed to any change in the pattern or amount of physical activity. Additional questionnaires will be completed to assess behavioral, environmental, psychological, and social factors related to physical activity.

Woodland Hills High School students who graduated in 1993, 1994, or 1995 may be part of this major study. Over the next few months, Aaron's research team will contact individuals who have been participating in PittPAS to enroll them in the next phase of the research. Participants in these earlier studies can call 412-383-6743 for more information.