Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the associations among measured physical fitness, perceived fitness, intention towards future physical activity and self-reported physical activity through junior high school years. Methods: Study participants included 122 Finnish students who were 13 years old during Grade 7. The sample was comprised of 80 girls and 42 boys from 3 junior high schools (Grades 7-9). During the autumn semester of Grade 7, students completed fitness tests and a questionnaire analyzing self-perception of their physical fitness. The questionnaire delivered at Grade 8 included intention towards future physical activity. At Grade 9 students’ self-reported physical activity levels. Results: Structural Equation Modelling revealed an indirect path from physical fitness to self-reported physical activity via perceived physical fitness and intention towards future physical activity. The model also demonstrated a correlation between perceived physical fitness and physical activity. Squared multiple correlations revealed that perceived physical fitness explained 33 % of the actual physical fitness. Conclusions: The results of this study highlight the role of physical and cognitive variables in the process of adoption of physical activity in adolescence.
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