EAST LANSING, Mich. A lack of equipment and venues and a lack of motivation even if those were available are the main barriers to physical activity for adolescent boys, according to recently published research from a Michigan State University nursing researcher.
A study of sixth-grade boys' attitudes led by Lorraine Robbins from MSU's College of Nursing suggests an after-school physical activity program could help overcome the decrease in exercise typically seen in this age group.
Robbins' research, published in the Journal of School Nursing, identified the benefits of and barriers to physical activity and suggested ways to increase exercise. A racially diverse set of sixth-grade boys from two public middle schools were brought together in seven focus groups.
"Recent data show less than 12 percent of boys at this age are reaching federal recommendations for physical activity," Robbins said. "There is an urgent need to intervene as soon as boys reach middle school to help prevent long-term health problems."
So, what is preventing boys from reaching federal benchmarks, which call for one hour of exercise daily? Robbins found the most prominent personal barrier was lack of motivation, and environmental barriers included lack of equipment at schools and few neighborhood options with small yards and parks in disrepair.
Another sentiment expressed by many boys in the study, she said, was they preferred playing computer or video games or watching TV rather than exercising. As for the benefits of physical activity, the most prominent reasons identified by study participants were related to maintaining an average body weight and good physical health, specifically in regard to improving personal appearance.
Robbins and her research team focused on sixth-grade boys because obesity is more prevalent in adolescent boys than girls.
"Although boys are more active, only a small percentage engages in
|Contact: Jason Cody|
Michigan State University