Teens are less likely to engage in physical activity if they lack support and encouragement from family, school, and the community, according to a British study of adolescents age 16-18 years of Bangladeshi, Somali or Welsh descent.

Girls exercise less than boys because female physical activity is viewed as unimportant. Boys find barriers through lack of access to exercise resources, parental fear of injury and the belief that teens should be studying or working rather than playing. Although both boys and girls would like to increase their exercise frequency, girls tend to have a negative view of physical activity, while boys think positively about it.

“Interventions should focus on changing the attitudes of parents, communities and society toward activity,” the study concluded.

1. Brophy S, Crowley A, Mistry R. Recommendations to improve physical activity among teenagers: A qualitative study with ethnic minority and European teenagers. BMC Public Health 2011; 11: 412. (open access)