The Influences of the Environment on Physical Activity Participation in Rural Children
University of Wales
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This study aimed to investigate the influences of the environment upon physical activity. Drawing on data within previous research studies (Dagkas and Stathi 2007), this study examines a broad range of social and environmental issues providing further insight into research that is overlooked when considering physical activity participation. The study reported on data gathered from 22 students, a total of 10 boys and 12 girls aged 14 -16 years old that attend a school in a rural environment in South Wales, UK. The study employed focus group techniques to explore adolescents perceptions of physical activity. The key themes raised are: (1) family/parental influence. (2) social and cultural influences. (3) provision today. Findings indicated that the groups did not even consider social class as an indicator to physical activity, however the data suggests that residential location is significant from perhaps a more demographic perspective (location and distance). General attitudes towards rural environments found mixed perceptions across the spectrum of themes, reporting high levels of physical activity and perhaps more importantly reports of high levels of social and cultural influences. Perceptions of parental influences indicate active parents but were less encouraging in their support. Crime and other antisocial behaviour are a major influence in rural areas and deter physical activity. There is call for a much more structured provision of activities to include all ages and genders. The results are unique in comparison to previous findings however a true reflection of rural environments would require a broader investigation across wider rural geographical areas.
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