Engaging children and young people in physical activity

by Kiara Lewis

Institution: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2015
Keywords: Q Science (General)
Record ID: 1397172
Full text PDF: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/24271/


Children and young people’s physical activity levels are of continuing concern as the health implications for both childhood, and later on in adulthood, may be determined by their experiences of physical activity whilst growing up. Although many attempts have been made to increase physical activity levels relatively little attention has been paid to listening to the voices of children and how they experience physical activity. The publications presented in this thesis provide evidence to support the tenets of the Self Determination Theory. The results of three studies, one mixed methods, one literature review and one qualitative, have been synthesised to provide a commentary on why children engage with physical activity. The original contribution to knowledge arises from collecting evidence directly from active children and young people, many of whom have been previously disengaged from activity, to inform future interventions. For some children and young people being forced to be active is counterproductive as they associate activity as something that has to be ‘got out of the way’ or avoided where possible. If they are to take part in physical activity of their own volition it has to be enjoyable. The results of this thesis suggest that for it to be enjoyable participation should be in activities of their choice, where they feel competent and in control of their bodies whilst exercising. They want to be supported by parents and peers and respected, but not controlled, by teachers/instructors. Many children, in particular obese children, lack confidence in both their physical and social skills to interact with their peers in a physical activity setting. In providing separate activity sessions, which promote a caring and supportive climate, and a variety of non-traditional activities, children can develop competencies which enable them to enjoy being physically active. These findings need to be understood and further developed if we are to engage all young people in physical activity.