Inadequate physical activity (PA) contributes to the high prevalence of overweight and obesity among U.S. adolescent girls. Barriers preventing adolescent girls from meeting PA guidelines have not been thoroughly examined.
The threefold purpose of this study was to (a) determine pubertal stage, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic status (SES) differences in ratings of interference of barriers to PA; (b) examine relationships between perceived barriers and age, body mass index, recreational screen time, sedentary activity, and PA; and (c) identify girls’ top-rated perceived barriers to PA.
Girls (N = 509) from eight Midwestern U.S. schools participated. Demographic, pubertal stage, perceived barriers, and recreational screen time data were collected via surveys. Height and weight were measured. Accelerometers measured sedentary activity, moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and light plus MVPA.
Girls of low SES reported greater interference of perceived barriers to PA than those who were not of low SES (1.16 vs. 0.97, p = .01). Girls in early/middle puberty had lower perceived barriers than those in late puberty (1.03 vs. 1.24, p < .001). Girls’ perceived barriers were negatively related to MVPA (r = −.10, p = .03) and light plus MVPA (r = −.11, p = .02). Girls’ top five perceived barriers included lack of skills, hating to sweat, difficulty finding programs, being tired, and having pain.
Innovative interventions, particularly focusing on skill development, are needed to assist girls in overcoming their perceived barriers to PA.
Amber L. Vermeesch, PhD, MSN, RN, FNP-C, is Associate Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Portland, Oregon.
Jiying Ling, PhD, MS, RN, is Assistant Professor of Nursing; and Vicki R.Voskuil, MS, RN, CPNP, is Doctoral Candidate, College of Nursing, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
Marion Bakhoya, BS, is Former MS Kinesiology Student, Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
Stacey M. Wesolek, MS, is Project Manager; and Kelly A. Bourne, MS, is Measurement Coordinator, College of Nursing, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
Karin A. Pfeiffer, PhD, is Associate Professor of Kinesiology, Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
Lorraine B. Robbins, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNP-BC, is Associate Professor of Nursing, College of Nursing, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
Accepted for publication May 29, 2015.
The authors would like to acknowledge that the research was supported by Grant Number R01HL109101 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); PI: L. B. Robbins, College of Nursing, Michigan State University (MSU). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NHLBI or NIH. The “Girls on the Move Intervention” study was also funded by MSU College of Nursing. The funding bodies did not have a role in or influence the various phases of the project, the writing of the manuscript, or the decision to submit it for publication.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Corresponding author: Lorraine B. Robbins, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNP-BC, College of Nursing, Michigan State University, Bott Building for Nursing Education and Research, 1355 Bogue Street, C245, East Lansing, MI 48824 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).