Factors influencing physical activity participation among School going children

  • Tamara Figaji
  • Julie Phillips


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 for PA 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.

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 administered questionnaire. The data was analyzed with the Statistical Package for the 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-test) and within groups (paired sample t-test)

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.

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.


Aaron, D.J., Kriska, A.M., Dearwater, S.R., Calley, J.A.,Metz, K.F. & LaPorte, R.E. (1995). Reproducibility and validity of an epidemiologic questionnaire to assess past year physical activity in adolescents. American Journal of Epidemiology, 142:191-201.

Al-Hazzaa, H.M. (2002). Physical activity, fitness and fatness among Saudi children and adolescents. Implications for cardiovascular health. Saudi Medical Journal, 23: 144-150

Bauer, K.W., Nelson, M.C., Boutelle, K.N and Neumark- Sztainer D. (2008). Parental influences on adolescents' physical activity and sedentary behavior:longitudical findings from Project EAT-II. Iinternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activtiy 5:12

Bauman, A., Bellew, B., Vita, P., Brown, W. & Owen, N. (2002). Getting Australia Active: Towards better practice for the promotion of physical activity, Melbourne: National Public Health Partnership.

Birnbaum AS, Evenson KR, Motl RW et al. (2005) Scale development for perceived school climate for girls' physical activity. American Journal of Health Behavior 29(3): 250-257

Butcher, K., Sallis, J.F., Mayer, J.A. & Woodruff, S. (2008). Correlates of physical activity guideline compliance for adolescents in 100 U.S. Cities. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42: 360-368.

Caspersen, C.J., Pereira, M.A., Curran, K.M. (2000), Changes in physical activity patterns in the United States by sex and cross-sectional age. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32:1601-1609.

Grieser, M., Vu, M.B., Bedimo-Rung, A.L., Neumark- Sztainer, D., Moody, J and Young, D.R et al. (2006). Physical activity, attitudes, preferences, and practices in African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian girls. Health Education & Behavior, 33:40-51

Hohepa, M., Schofield, G. & Kolt, G.S. (2006). Physical activity: What do high school students think? Journal of Adolescent Health, 39: 328-336.

Kahn, J.A., Huang, B., Gillman, M.W., Field, A.E., Austin, B., Colditz, G.A. & Frazier, L. (2008). Patterns and determinants of physical activity in US adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 369-377.

Katzmarzyk, P., Gledhill, N. & Shephard, R.J. (2000). The economic burden of physical inactivity in Canada. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 163: 1435-1440.

Lacar, E., Soto, X. & Riley, W. (2000). Adolescent obesity in a low-income Mexican American District in South Texas. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 154: 837-840.

Lowther, M., Mutrie, N., Loughlan, C. & McFarlane, C. (1999). Development of a Scottish physical activity questionnaire: a tool for use in physical activity interventions. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 33:244-249.

Noakes T and Lambert E( 1995). Chapter 6: Exercise.

Medical Research Council Technical Report.

O'Dea, J.A. (2003). Why do kids eat healthful food?

Perceived benefits of and barriers to healthful eating and physical activity among children and adolescents. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103:497-501.

Phillips, J.S. (2006a). Concerns about physical inactivity among adolescents in the Strand, South Africa. Journal of Community and Health Science, 1: 39-46.

Phillips, J.S. (2006b). Health risk behaviours among black adolescent females in the Strand: A mixed-methods investigation. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of the Western Cape.

Sallis, J.F, Prochaska, J.J and Taylor, W.C. (2000). A review of correlates of physical activity of children and adolescents. Medicine Science Sports Science 32:963-975

Simons-Morton, B.G., McKenzie, T.J., Stone, E., Mitchell, P., Osganian, V., Strikmiller, P.K., Ehlinger, S., Cribb, P. & Nader, P.R. (1997). Physical activity in multiethnic population of third graders in four states. American Journal of Public Health, 87: 45-50.

Sollerhed, A.C. & Ejlertsson, G. (2008). Physical benefits of expanded physical education in primary school: findings from a 3-year intervention study in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 18: 102-107.

Terguson, J.L. & King, K.A. (2002). Do perceived cues, benefits, and barriers to physical activity difference between male and female adolescents? Journal of School Health, 72: 374-380.

US Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Healthy People 2010, 2nd edition, Washington, D.C: US Department of Health and Human Services

World Health Organisation (2003). WHO global strategy on diet, physical activity and health: African regional consultantion meeting report. Harare, Zimbabwe, 18- 20 March 2003