Background: It is recommended that young people should engage in 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous activity (MVPA) a day for health benefits, but few teenagers actually meet this recommendation. Policy-makers play a vital role in designing physical activity initiatives, but they generally do this with little or no input from the intervention recipients. This study explores the recommendations made by teenagers to improve activity provision, uptake and sustainability of physical activity engagement for both themselves and their peers.
Methods: Thirteen focus groups were carried out in seven secondary schools in South Wales, United Kingdom. Participants (n = 78) were recruited from a larger mixed-method randomised control trial, which involved the implementation of a voucher scheme to promote physical activity in teenagers (aged 13-14). Thematic analysis was undertaken to identify key issues from the perspective of the teenage participants.
Results: Six key recommendations were identified following analysis of the focus groups: i) Lower/remove the cost of activities without sacrificing the quality, ii) Make physical activity opportunities more locally accessible, iii) Improve the standards of existing facilities, iv) Make activities more specific to teenagers v) Give teenagers a choice of activities/increase variety of activity and vi) Provide activities that teenage girls enjoy (e.g., fun, sociable and not competitive sport). Throughout the focus groups, the increased opportunity to participate in unstructured activity was a key recommendation echoed by both boys and girls in all themes.
Conclusion: There is a disconnect between what is available and what teenagers want to do. Policy-makers and those involved in physical activity delivery (e.g., schools, local council and local activity providers) should include young people in designing interventions and facilities to ensure they are meeting the needs of this age group and providing the right opportunities for teenagers to be active. That is unstructured, local, low cost, fun, sociable opportunities and the right facilities to be active.
Keywords: Barriers; Physical activity; Recommendations; Teenagers.