A new study has revealed that a lack of equipment and venues - and a lack of motivation even if those were available - are the main barriers to physical activity for adolescent boys.
Lorraine Robbins from Michigan State University brought together a racially diverse set of sixth-grade boys from two public middle schools in seven focus groups.
"Recent data show less than 12 percent of boys at this age are reaching federal recommendations for physical activity," Robbins said.
Robbins found the most prominent personal barrier was lack of motivation, and environmental barriers included lack of equipment at schools and few neighborhood options with small yards and parks in disrepair.
Robbins and her research team focused on sixth-grade boys because obesity is more prevalent in adolescent boys than girls.
"Although boys are more active, only a small percentage engages in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day," Robbins said.
"A lot of boys in both single- and dual-working parent homes care for themselves after school while their parents are at work. Many have limited opportunities for physical activity that are safe, accessible and affordable; this type of situation can lead to unhealthy eating habits."
"Clearly, to reach boys at this age, we need to offer physical activities that are fun and appealing, providing a viable alternative to the sedentary activities they enjoy now," Robbins said. "In addition, at this age group, it is critical to have someone serving as a source of help or motivation."
The research is published in the Journal of School Nursing.