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Gender and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Predicting Adolescent Sexual Risk: Athletic Participation versus Exercise

Kathleen E. Miller, Grace M. Barnes, Merrill J. Melnick, Donald F. Sabo and Michael P. Farrell
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 43, No. 4 (Dec., 2002), pp. 436-450
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3090236
Page Count: 15
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Gender and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Predicting Adolescent Sexual Risk: Athletic Participation versus Exercise
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Abstract

Though often conflated, informal physical exercise and organized athletic participation have very different implications for adolescent sexual risk outcomes. The purpose of this research is to disaggregate strenuous exercise from sports, examine how each is associated with sexual risk, and explain the observed differences using the conceptual lens of cultural resource theory. Using a nationally representative sample of over 16,000 public and private high school students, we employ logistic regression to test hypotheses about the gender-specific and race-specific effects of strenuous exercise and athletic participation on adolescent sexual risk behavior. The results show that both forms of physical activity buffer sexual risk for girls. Strenuous exercise is associated with increased odds of sexual risk for boys. Sports and race interact to influence boys' sexual risk outcomes: Athletic participation is associated with lowered odds of sexual risk for white male adolescents, but heightened odds of sexual risk for black male adolescents.

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