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Children Prefer Fun Physical Activity

Study shows what children like and dislike.

Children doing physical activity

Key factors for children to increase physical movement are social support, fun and outdoor activity. Research shows that kids also respond to social influences, among others, to increase exercise participation, according to a study in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living (2022; 4, 789259).

Researchers from the United Kingdom and Australia wanted to understand the causes for children’s physical activity (or lack thereof) in Northern Ireland, where many children do not meet minimum recommended levels. Investigators held focus groups and “write-and-draw projects” among 50 schoolchildren (ages 7–9) to analyze their current views, perceptions and experiences of physical activity, along with barriers and facilitators.

What they learned is that most physical activity came from structured and sports-based programs. Children preferred fun, group-based and outdoor activities; barriers to activity were lack of time and/or space and parental restrictions. Peers and family were the main influencers. Study authors note that social opportunities for exercise may be an effective way to enhance intrinsic enjoyment and ultimately to increase participation.

See also: Children Are Less Active Worldwide

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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