Document Type



Background/Purpose: The prevalence of childhood obesity and school truancy are contemporary health issues, as millions of children do not attend school, when required. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between intent to be physically active, aerobic fitness, and school absences. Methods: Data from 1907 adolescents from the United States were collected during physical education. Participants completed a valid Theory of Planned Behavior survey and the FitnessGram, with the demographic data obtained from school records. Linear regressions controlling for gender, grade, free/reduced lunch, body mass index, and intent to be physically active were calculated. Results: Adolescents who had positive intentions to be physically active (P < .001), scored higher on the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) test (P = .006), and ran faster in the mile (P < .001) had fewer unexcused absences compared to students who had negative intentions and lower fitness. Discussion: Adolescents with higher aerobic fitness had fewer unexcused school absences, which suggests that cardiovascular health may be a valuable contributor in decreasing adolescent health and behavior risk, specifically truancy and out-of-school suspensions. Translation to Health Education Practice: Whole-of-school approaches that align physical activities and educational experiences can help adolescents understand the benefits of physical fitness as a prevention strategy.


Education | Health and Physical Education | Kinesiology | Sports Sciences


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the American Journal of Health Education on September 22, 2017, available online: