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Participation in organized high school activities lowers risk of smoking 3 years after graduation
Date:12/6/2007

PHILADELPHIA Researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania reported today that students who participate in high school sports or individual physical activity are less likely to smoke than their classmates. The new study indicates that the protective effect of participation extends at least three years beyond graduation. The Penn team discovered, however, that girls do not derive the same level of protection from school sports as do boys.

Daniel Rodriguez, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, reported that an adolescents self-assessment and sense of physical competence was an important aspect in smoking prevention. Students who feel successful continue to participate and are less likely to start negative behaviors. I visualize this as a fork in the road, Rodriguez said. If you are successful, then you continue doing sports. If you are not successful, then you are now in need of other reinforcement and start looking for other things. In that case, things like smoking become open to you.

Given the data, Rodriguez recommends that parents make an effort to get their children involved in organized activities whether it is a physical sport, like track and field, or some other organized activity, like the chess team and that they teach them how to properly evaluate their own skills. It is important that children learn to compare their current skills or performance to their past performance and not to that of their teammates or opponents. That way they can feel good about their skills, even if they are not the best at something.

Rodriguez, PhD, and colleagues in the NIH-funded Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania have shown previously that adolescents who are physically active are about one-third less likely to start smoking than their less active peers.

Now, in the first of two studies that Rodri
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Contact: Olivia Fermano
Olivia.Fermano@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5653
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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