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Importance of Sports During Youth and Exercise Barriers in 20- to 29-Year-Old Male Nonathletes Differently Motivated for Regular Physical Activities

Leyk, Dieter1,2; Witzki, Alexander1; Sievert, Alexander2; Rohde, Ulrich1; Moedl, Anne2; Rüther, Thomas2; Löllgen, Herbert3; Hackfort, Dieter4

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue - p S15–S22
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825cf0dc
Original Research

Leyk, D, Witzki, A, Sievert, A, Rohde, U, Moedl, A, Rüther, T, Löllgen, H, and Hackfort, D. Importance of sports during youth and exercise barriers in 20- to 29-year-old male nonathletes differently motivated for regular physical activities. J Strength Cond Res 26(7): S15–S22, 2012—The number of sedentary young adults has dramatically increased in past decades, and sedentary lifestyles are adopted at an increasingly earlier age. Little is known about barriers or predictors to (re)initiate regular physical activity in this group. The purpose of the study is to (a) identify subgroups in nonathletes differing in their amenability to physical exercise, (b) to analyze them for differences in barriers and intention to exercise, and (c) compare importance of sports during youth in nonathletes to trained peers. Using a health and fitness questionnaire 589 nonathletes were queried in the cross-sectional survey and compared with 270 trained peers. Athletic abstainers (A), lower (L), and higher (H) motivated nonathletes were separated based on previous engagement in sports. Of the nonathletes, 54.7% reported only 1 barrier to exercise. Although this feature was most prominent in H (71.5%), the other groups showed significantly more barriers and a broader distribution. Similar characteristics but minor differences were observed for perceived importance of sports during youth. The most significant differences between athletes and nonathletes emerged enquiring the attitude and activity of the parents. The majority of nonathletes (72.8%) indicate their intention to exercise in the future. Their intention differed significantly in H (88.1%), L (76.1%), and A (59.1%). However, there are good reasons to doubt that most of those intending nonathletes will actually become physically active. Even in the analyzed narrow age range of men different motivated groups of nonathletes were found. Because of the differences in receptiveness and approachability health promotion policies may not only consider the often recommended tailored interventions but also carefully designed incentive programs.

1Department IV—Military Ergonomics and Exercise Physiology, Central Institute of the Federal Armed Forces Medical Services, Koblenz, Germany

2German Sport University Cologne, Institute for Physiology und Anatomy, Cologne, Germany

3German Society for Sports Medicine and Prevention (DGSP), Remscheid, Germany

4Institute of Sport Science, Universität der Bundeswehr, Neubiberg, Germany

Address correspondence to Dr. Dieter Leyk,

Copyright © 2012 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.