More Than Half Of Teenage Girls May Be Leading Sedentary Lives, Research Finds
perceive lack of time as the number one barrier to physical activity,
according to a new study from the American College of Sports Medicine.
three-year survey assessing black and white adolescent girls reveals
sedentary habits are mostly linked to internal barriers (interest,
motivation), which were unrelated to external factors (jobs,
half of approximately 2,000 girls surveyed from ages 16 or 17 to 18 or
19 were identified as being sedentary. Of those classified as sedentary
(about 1,000 girls), the majority (65 percent for black girls and 80
percent for white girls) claimed lack of time was their primary barrier
to activity, the study authors reported. They also frequently said they
were too tired or uninterested in participating in physical activities.
Other commonly reported barriers, such as safety and body image
concerns, came from the 10-item questionnaire developed to assess the
girls' perceptions of barriers to activity participation.
identification of these barriers, researchers corroborated with other
information about the girls to understand whether barriers were simply
perceived or were related to external circumstances. For instance,
while the majority of girls felt lack of time prevented their pursuit
of activity, researchers found no difference in hours at work or in
household chores when compared to girls who did not report time as a
barrier. Further, girls who said they were too tired had about the same
amount of sleep per night as those who did not report fatigue.
activity levels have declined by 83 percent in these age groups," said
Dr. Sue Y.S. Kimm, M.P.H., lead author of the study. "These girls are
definitely at risk for becoming overweight or obese, if they are not
already, because of this steep decline. Recognizing what these girls
perceive as barriers to their health and wellness can help us motivate
them to find balance in their life that includes an increase in energy
findings from the study showed habitual physical activity was
significantly lower among black girls; these girls spent twice as much
time watching television or videos and were significantly heavier than
white girls. More white girls reported lack of time, and also were
significantly more likely to indicate fatigue and self- consciousness
as a barrier to exercise. Black girls were more than twice as likely to
cite safety as a concern, although this was not one of the leading
barriers to activity participation. Researchers were interested to find
that black girls cited fewer barriers overall, and suggested the
greater decline in activity participation may reflect cultural
differences and attitudes about exercise.
know as much as we'd like about why girls become particularly inactive
during adolescence," said Kimm. "Our evidence suggests the two most
commonly cited reasons –- lack of time and fatigue –-are
probably not actual barriers because these girls did not work more
hours after school or have less sleep than others. However, it's the
perception of a barrier we must overcome in order to help these girls
find the time and energy it takes to get moving."
ACSM and the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 30 minutes of
physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. For those who
perceive lack of time as a major barrier, health and fitness experts
agree physical activity can be accumulated during the day in shorter
periods of activity, such as 10- or 15-minute bouts.
of the study were published in the March issue of Medicine &
Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of the American College
of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
For more information on the American College of Sports Medicine, visit www.acsm.org