Background: Few large studies have examined adolescents’ views about increasing their physical activity (PA) to inform PA promotion. We assessed adolescent preference for activity type, co-participants, timing and location of PA promotion and examined patterns in their views by population subgroup.
Methods: Participants (n = 457) (Mean ± SD age: 14.3 ± 0.3 years; 45.2% male) responded to questionnaire items: “What activities would you like to try or do more often?” (yes/no to 6 activity types e.g. team sports) and “I would like to do more PA …” followed by options regarding co-participants, timing and PA location (agree/disagree to 10 items). Anthropometry, demographics, accelerometer- and questionnaire-derived PA were obtained. Logistic regression was used to examine differences in views by subgroup (sex, weight status, objective PA level, parental education (SES)).
Results: Most adolescents wanted to increase participation in ≥1 type of PA (94.4%). Gym use (56.7%) and team sports (50.6%) were most popular. Girls were less likely to choose racquet sports (vs. boys OR; 95% CI 0.6;0.4-0.9) but more likely to select dancing (40.3;17.8-91.1). Preference for participation was positively associated with existing participation in a similar activity (all p < 0.02). More adolescents wanted to increase PA with friends (88.8%) than family (63.5%). A leisure centre was most popular for increased participation (81.0%), followed by home (70.0%). Participation during school time was less popular among girls (vs. boys: 0.6;0.4-0.9) and more popular among low SES participants (vs. high: 1.6;1.1-2.4). Overweight/obese adolescents were less likely to choose participation with friends (vs. normal weight 0.5;0.3-0.9).
Conclusions: Targeting adolescent PA promotion by subgroup and providing choice of PA type, co-participants, timing and PA location appears promising. Adolescents want to do more types of PA more often; interventions could increase opportunities and support to facilitate this.