Contemporary society unfortunately has created several common barriers preventing teenagers from engaging in daily physical activity, placing them at risk of poor physical, social and mental health outcomes.
Finding the time and interest to build physical activity into a teenager's daily life can sometimes be difficult. Young people can come up with lots of excuses to avoid exercise. Family, peers, the media and popular culture can also influence a teenager's attitude towards participating in physical activity.
Examples of common barriers that prevent teenagers from participating in physical activity include:
- Individual Factors
- Personal attitude: eg. "Exercise is boring", "I don't feel like it" and "It's too hot, it's too cold, it's raining"
- Low self-belief in skill level and/or ability to be physically active: eg. "I don't know how to be active", "I'm too unfit"
- Self-conscious or disturbed body image about wearing sporting uniforms or swimming costumes
- Lack of confidence due to perceived poor ability to learn new skills
- Lack of awareness and knowledge of the health benefits of physical activity
- Lack of awareness and understanding of the detrimental impact of sedentary behaviours and habits
- Lack of willingness in some girls who may not like 'getting sweaty', 'messing their hair' and 'ruining their makeup'
- Social Factors
- Negative influence of peers who are 'not into' exercise
- Peer pressure: bullying or teasing from peers
- Lack of parental support
- Lack of appropriate sporting role models
- Teenage girls may feel uncomfortable participating in physical activity in front of male peers
- Emphasis on achieving or winning over participating for enjoyment
- Competing interests for spare time (social media, computer games, television, hanging out with friends, etc.)
- Stereotypes (some teenage girls may not participate in sport due to their perception that sport is 'masculine' or that sporty females may be perceived as more masculine)
- Environmental Factors
- Safe locations to be active
- Lack of knowledge of available opportunities and/or limited access to equipment
- Financial costs of physical activities (membership fees, travel costs, equipment costs)
- Time constraints (teenagers often experience increased demands on their available time due to school, part-time work, social and family commitments)
- Overcrowding of school curriculum where physical activity can often be viewed as the lowest priority