Digital Public Defence: Maren Hjelle Guddal

Master in Sports Physiotherapy Maren Hjelle Guddal at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis Physical activity and sport participation in adolescence. Health implications related to musculoskeletal pain, mental health and obesity. The HUNT Study for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Photo: Amalie Huth Hovland. 

The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

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Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.

Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

See Digital Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Associate Professor Eva E Skillgate, Karolinska Institute
  • Second opponent: Researcher Vegar Rangul, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Hanne Solveig Dagfinrud, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Espen Saxhaug Kristoffersen, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Professor II Kjersti Storheim, Oslo Metropolitan University


Musculoskeletal pain and mental health problems commonly occur and are leading causes of disability among adolescents. A rising trend in obesity, particularly in the transition into adulthood, is another growing public health concern. Increasing adolescents’ physical activity (PA) level seems to be a promising approach to mitigating the prevalence and burden of these health challenges, but there is still a lack of evidence, particularly regarding the potential role of sport participation.

The overall objective of this thesis was to study the relationship between adolescent PA, including different types of sport participation, and musculoskeletal pain and mental health problems. Further, to evaluate the potential impact of adolescent PA, and co-existing musculoskeletal pain and mental health problems, on obesity in young adulthood.

Data were obtained from a large population-based cohort study in Norway, the Health Survey of Nord-Trøndelag (The HUNT study).

A moderate level of physical activity was associated with reduced odds of neck and shoulder pain (NSP) and low back pain (LBP). Associations between participation in sports and musculoskeletal pain differed between the types of sport performed, as well as pain localization.

A high level of PA was favourably associated with mental health, especially for older adolescents (≥16 years of age). The results showed that participation in team sports may be particularly beneficial to mental health.

The probability of obesity in young adulthood was higher across combinations of lower levels of PA and occurrence of musculoskeletal pain in adolescence. Prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal pain may therefore be of importance in obesity prevention.

The findings from this study point to PA benefits for both musculoskeletal and mental health, as well as lower probability of future obesity, underscoring the need for efforts to increase PA and to prevent the large dropout from sports activities during adolescence.

Additional information

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Published May 27, 2021 9:55 AM - Last modified June 10, 2021 12:56 PM