Compensation of overall physical activity in (pre)adolescent girls – the CReActivity project

Beck F, Dettweiler U, Sturm DJ, Demetriou Y, Reimers AK (2022)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2022


Book Volume: 80

Article Number: 244

Issue: 1

DOI: 10.1186/s13690-022-01002-1



According to the ActivityStat hypothesis more physical activity (PA) in one timespan is compensated by increased sedentary time (ST) in the following timespan and vice versa to maintain an overall stable PA level. Until now, existing literature revealed inconsistent results regarding compensatory behaviour across children and adolescents. Thus, the aim of the present study is (1) to investigate whether ST in the morning is compensated by active behaviour in the afternoon and (2) whether ST during the week is compensated by active behaviour during the weekend in (pre)adolescent girls. Additionally, we aimed to differentiate between positive and negative compensatory behaviour and examine whether it is moderated by socioeconomic status (SES), age or weight status.


The participants were 370 sixth grade school girls (mean age 11.6 years) from Munich that participated in the CReActivity study, a school based intervention study aiming to identify the mechanisms of behavioural changes in PA among girls. ST and PA were measured over seven consecutive days using accelerometery. Descriptive determination of compensatory behaviour, as well as Bayesian multivariate multilevel analysis were conducted with data clustered on the individual (ID), class and school level.


Descriptive analysis revealed rather constant compensatory behaviour of about 60% for after-school days and weekends over all observation points. However, regarding all girls, compensation was predominantly negative. Differentiated analysis indicated that all girls with low ST levels in the morning or on weekdays, compensated for this behaviour with lower PA levels in the afternoon or on weekends. Multilevel covariate analysis indicated great variability between the participants. Furthermore, differences in compensatory behaviour can also be seen on class and school levels. Interestingly, PA compensatory behaviour is not associated with age, weight status or SES.


Our findings could neither confirm nor reject the ActivityStat Hypothesis. Overall, due to the great variability across the girls, it seems that compensation depends on individual factors. In the future, to prevent negative compensation, school-based interventions that have the potential to provide opportunities to be physically active, should not neglect (pre)adolescents’ leisure time behaviour.

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How to cite


Beck, F., Dettweiler, U., Sturm, D.J., Demetriou, Y., & Reimers, A.K. (2022). Compensation of overall physical activity in (pre)adolescent girls – the CReActivity project. Archives of Public Health, 80.


Beck, Franziska, et al. "Compensation of overall physical activity in (pre)adolescent girls – the CReActivity project." Archives of Public Health 80 (2022).

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