There is a universal concern about the rapid decline in the physical activity levels of children particularly adolescent
girls. There is evidence of an increase in juvenile obesity that is associated with numerous health risks. Excessive
public media attention given to physical appearance places pressure on teenage girls that has a negative effect on their
healthy personality development. During adolescence the majority of psychological problems associated with obesity
stem from a disturbance in the self-concept [1]. The purpose of this study was to determine the physical activity levels
of adolescent girls in the Stellenbosch region and to compare their levels of fitness with their body composition and
physical self-perception.

The sample consisted of 167 girls between the ages 14 and 17 years. Body weight, stature, Body Mass Index,
percentage body fat (skinfold measurements) and waist and hip circumferences were determined. The Bleep Test was
administered to measure levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The subjects completed a personal information form, as
well as the Physical Self-Perception Questionnaire [2].

The results show a significant positive relationship (r= 0.41; p<0.01) between levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and
physical self-perception (Fig. 1) and significant negative relationships between percentage body fat and physical selfperception
(r= -0.37; p<0.01) (Fig. 2), as well as body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness (r= 0.40; p<0.01).

The results clearly illustrate the importance of physical activity for the physical and psychological well-being of
adolescents. The inactive lifestyles of the youth in Stellenbosch are of great concern. Physical activity promotion
together with education programs on dietary consumption are necessary to address this problem.

[1] Flaks, H. (1976). A study of the personality of the obese adolescent female. Pretoria: University of South Africa.
[2] Fox, K.R. (1990). The physical perception profile [Manual]. University of Northern Illinois.

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