Objectives We aimed to examine associations between markers of pubertal timing and leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) from ages 36 to 68 years in men and women from the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development.
Study design Pubertal timing was ascertained by physicians at age 14–15 years. Boys were grouped, based on their secondary sexual characteristics, as prepubescent, in early-stage puberty, advanced stage puberty or fully mature at age 14–15 years. Girls were grouped as reaching menarche ≤11, 12, 13 or ≥14 years. LTPA was reported at ages 36, 43, 53, 60–64 and 68 years and classified as active or inactive at each age. Associations were examined using standard and mixed-effects logistic regression models.
Results Of 5362 singleton births recruited, 1499 men and 1409 women had at least one measure of LTPA and data on pubertal timing and selected covariates. When compared with men that were fully mature at age 14–15 years, those that were in advanced stage and early-stage puberty, but not the prepubescent stage, had lower likelihood of LTPA at younger but not older adult ages (p=0.06 for pubertal status-by-age at LTPA interaction in mixed-effects model). For example, fully adjusted ORs of LTPA (vs no LTPA) at ages 36 and 68 years, respectively, for advanced puberty versus fully mature were 0.69 (95% CIs 0.50 to 0.96) and 1.03 (0.72 to 1.47). Age at menarche was not associated with LTPA at any age (pinteraction with age at LTPA=0.9). For example, OR (from mixed-effects model) of LTPA between 36 and 68 years was 1.23 (0.93, 1.63) for menarche at 13 vs ≤11 years.
Conclusions In a nationally representative study, there was little evidence to suggest that pubertal timing was an important correlate of LTPA between ages 36 and 68 years. Maturity-related variations in adolescents’ LTPA may be transitory and lose importance over time.