Does Community Physical Activity Protect Urban Poor Youth in Accra from Sexual Risk Taking beyond Their Own Participation in Physical Activity?

Nurudeen Alhassan, University of Ghana
Francis Nii-Amoo Dodoo, Pennsylvania State University and University of Ghana

Research linking young people’s participation in physical activity and sexual intercourse has conventionally explained the utility of physical activity in terms of keeping the youth busy, and leaving them with less idle time to engage in sex. Physical activity further develops their self-confidence and their ability to resist social pressures to exchange sex for approval. Meanwhile, whether the presence of physical activity groups in communities predicts the sexual behaviour of youth remains unexplored. We address this gap using data from the Regional Institute for Population Studies’ 2011 Urban Health and Poverty Survey. We find that the presence of physical activity groups predicts lower odds of sex for boys, but is insignificant for girls; while participation predicts higher odds of sex for girls and insignificant for boys. We conclude that physical activity groups in communities may be associated with social control mechanisms that delay the onset of sex for boys.

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Presented in Session 238: Sexual Behavior, Risks, and Networks