BACKGROUND: There is limited knowledge of physical activity (PA) patterns among high school students. High schools plays an important role as context for the students, but it is uncertain to what extent schools influence student participation in PA during leisure time. The purpose of this study is to describe patterns of PA and assess variations between schools and classes in PA, in a large cohort of Danish high school students.
METHODS: Self-reported cross-sectional data came from The Danish National Youth Study, comprising a total of 70,674 students attending 119 different schools and 3213 classes. Multilevel logistic regressions were applied to evaluate the association between socio-demographic variables and patterns of PA, and to assess the impact of schools and classes on PA measures.
CONCLUSION: Overall, students whose parents achieved a lower level of education, older students and girls of perceived ethnic minority represent vulnerable groups in relation to participation in several forms of PA during leisure time. The ICCs indicate that schools, in particular, have the potential to influence participation in PA at school during leisure time and active transportation to and from school. Thus, high schools should encourage and facilitate activities aimed at engaging students in PA during leisure time as well as encourage active transportation.