227. Transition in participation in sport and unstructured physical activity
Source: Health Education Research, 2010, 25:282-293
Commentary by Rona Macniven, Cluster for Physical Activity and Health (CPAH), University of Sydney
This study provides perspectives on physical activity and sport participation from teenage girls in rural Victoria and helps us understand factors which influence motivation and participation in this population group often at risk of declines in physical activity.
Through qualitative focus group interviews with 27 girls aged 16–17 from four schools, factors affecting their sport and physical activity participation, using the socio-ecological model, and the possible impacts on participation of moving away from their home community after leaving school were discussed. Key emerging intrapersonal themes included preferences and motivation, time availability, changes in types of physical activity involvement, self-esteem and motor skill competence. Girls reported sports club involvement was an important form of social contact in smaller communities yet they found a lack of time, due to educational commitments, as they grew older led to adopting unstructured rather than structured forms of activity. However, some girls cited motivation as an issue for individual physical activities, which could lead to declines in participation. Positive support from family, peers and coaches was discussed as an important interpersonal theme affecting participation. Organisational and environmental themes were rurality, community sport and school. Rurality was generally perceived to add to social capital derived from community sport, but remoteness to facilities and opportunities was also discussed. However, many participants felt they would find it difficult to get involved with sports clubs if they moved to larger urban areas.
These findings provide insight into causal factors in declines in adolescent girls’ physical activity and are of particular interest as they come from a rural location which is both less frequently studied and has also been shown to be associated with declines in physical activity participation. They can be used by sport and recreation planners to promote club, facility and community development in rural Australia.
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