The relationship between health risk behaviour and physical activity among high school learners in the Mtwarra region, Tanzania
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INTRODUCTION: Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for major non-communicable diseases, which contribute substantially to the global burden of chronic diseases, disability and death. AIM: The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between participation in physical activity and health risk behaviour among high school students in the Mtwarra region, in the United Republic of Tanzania. METHOD: A descriptive quantitative study design was used whereby a stratifi ed sample of the high school students, which included male and female students between the ages of 17 to 26 years. A self administered questionnaire was used following written participant and parental consent. The study measured health risk behaviour such as alcohol use, smoking cigarettes, drug abuse, sedentary lifestyle and sexual behaviour. Quantitative data was captured and analyzed using SAS 9.1 and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 13.0 programmes. The Kruskal- Wallis` test was used to test the means between variables and the Spearman correlation coefficient test was utilized to test associations between variables related to health risk behaviour and demograp hic variables. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Two hundred high school students with a mean age of 20.47 (SD=1.493) participated in this study. Of the total number of participants, 67% was not participating in physical activity. Furthermore, 26% smoked cigarettes, 93% consumed alcohol, 9.5% used drugs and 93% was involved in risky sexual behaviours. The study identified relationships between participation in physical activity and health risk behaviours. The youth involved in risky behaviours like consuming alcoholic drinks and smoking cigarettes were less physically active. CONCLUSION: The results of this study provide valuable information to relevant policymakers and stakeholders for the implementation of physical activity programmes in schools of the Mtwarra region, in the United Republic of Tanzania.