Factors influencing physical activity participation among school going children

07 Dec 2010

BACKGROUND: Although the health benefits of physical activity have been proven, many children and adolescents still do not meet the recommended guidelines for sufficient physical activity. The purpose of this investigation was thus to examine the levels of PA, and learners perception of support from teachers, family and friends at an independent school in the Western Cape. Furthermore, the investigation aimed to examine the influence of social support on physical activity. METHOD: A cross-sectional design using quantitative methods was used in this study, which included 100 learners in the senior phase of the school (i.e. grades 5 to 7). The data was obtained with a self-admininstered questionnaire. The data was analyzed with the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.0. The Chi-square test was used to explore associations between nominal and numerical data. The T-test was used to determine statistical significance between groups (independent t-tests) and within groups (paired sample t-test). RESULTS: Overall the sample responded positively when asked about support for physical activity from teachers. Furthermore, the study sample had a positive perception of both physical education (PE) and physical activity (PA) enjoyment. Boys participated in vigorous physical activity significantly more regularly than girls. CONCLUSION: As children are spending a considerable time at school, teachers, friends and parents should be encouraged to be supportive of their participation in physical activity.