Background: Understanding factors influencing adolescents’ sport/exercise participation (S/EP) is vital to developing effective interventions, but currently, evidence from less developed countries is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine correlates of S/EP across individual, interpersonal, and environmental levels in a nationally representative sample of Thai adolescents. Methods: Data from 4617 Thai adolescents aged 14۱۷ years old were obtained from recruited schools across Thailand. Data on S/EP (outcome variable), and psychosocial, home, and community environment covariates were collected from individual adolescents using the Thailand Physical Activity Children Survey, Student Questionnaire. School environmental data were collected at the school level using a School Built Environment Audit. Hierarchical regressions taking into account school clustering effects were applied for data analysis. Results: At the individual level, age and body mass index were independently and strongly correlated with S/EP. Adolescents with high preference for physical activity (PA) (OR = 1.71, p < 0.001) and at least a moderate level of self-efficacy (OR = 1.33, p = 0.001) were more likely to have high S/EP. At the interpersonal level, adolescents whose parents joined their sports/exercise at least 1۲ times/week (OR = 1.36, p = 0.003) received ۳ types of parental support (OR = 1.43, p = 0.005) and who received siblings’ (OR = 1.26, p = 0.004) and friends’ (OR = 1.99, p < 0.001) support had a greater chance of high S/EP. At the environmental level, adolescents’ S/EP was greater when there were at least 3۴ pieces of home sport/exercise equipment (OR = 2.77, p = 0.003), grass areas at school (OR = 1.56, p < 0.001), and at least 1۲ PA facilities in the community (OR = 1.30, p = 0.009). Conclusion: Multiple factors at different levels within an ecological framework influencing Thai adolescents’ S/EP were generally similar to those found in developed countries, despite some differences. For those interested in promoting and supporting Thai adolescents’ engagement in sports/exercise, further exploration of the influence of self-efficacy and attitude toward PA is required at the individual level; parental and peer support at the interpersonal level; and home sport equipment, school grass areas, and neighborhood PA facilities at the environment level.
Physical inactivity is a leading cause of noncommunicable diseases and mortality globally.1 Adolescent participation in physical activity (PA), especially structured activities like sports and exercise, tracks into adult PA and may reduce the incidence of some noncommunicable diseases. 2,3 However, among adolescents, sedentary behavior and insufficient PA levels are high, and both constitute a global public health concern.4 Participation in sports and exercise is significantly associated with an increased probability of adolescents’ accumulating PA of 60 min of moderate-tovigorous PA (MVPA) daily, as recommended by the World Health Organization. 5,6 In Thailand, recent studies reported that in 2015 the prevalence of sufficient PA in adolescents aged 14۱۷ years was low (20%),7 although almost half (44%) had participated in organized sports at least once a year, and 57% had engaged in ۳ sport activities in the past week.8 Similarly, the Thailand National Statistical Office reported that 21% of adolescents and young adults (aged 15۲۴ years) had participated in 3۴ days/week of moderate or vigorous sports/exercise or recreational activities.9 Understanding the factors influencing Thai adolescents’ sport/exercise participation (S/EP) will help to explain the prevalence of low PA levels in this population and facilitate the development of effective interventions to increase PA, particularly through involvement in sport and exercise. Adolescents’ S/EP can be influenced by a wide range of individual, interpersonal, and environmental factors, commonly framed as an “ecological framework.” This ecological framework overcomes several limitations of individually based behavioral and psychosocial theories and incorporates a wide range of influences at multiple levels, specifically adding intrapersonal and environmental factors.10 The present study was based on the adapted ecological framework proposed by Bauman et al.,11 a more recent concept encompassing factors ranging from individual to global. These factors interact across different levels and influence a specific health behavior such as S/EP.