Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Motives for Physical Activity among Adolescents in the Czech and Slovak Republics

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Motives for Physical Activity among Adolescents in the Czech and Slovak Republics

Article excerpt


Levels of physical inactivity are rising in many countries with major implications for the general health of people worldwide and for the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer and their risk factors such as raised blood pressure, raised blood sugar, dislipidemia, and overweight (1). Despite all the psycho-social and health benefits of physical activity (PA), levels of physical activity are decreasing significantly among school-aged children (2, 3). Higher prevalence of psychological and physical complaints is associated with lower level of PA among adolescents (4). Four-fifths of adolescents do not meet public health guidelines for recommended levels of physical activity (5). The decline in physical activity is much greater for girls than for boys (6, 7). Czech and Slovak adolescents are facing the same problem (8), causing an economic burden on national healthcare and social systems.

Causes of physical inactivity are well-documented and effects of new technologies on physical activity are obvious (e.g. progress in transport, improvement of transport technology), whereas others are more subtle and complex (e.g. televisions, computers, electronic entertainment, the internet, and wireless communication devices) (5).

At the same time, there are several motives and factors that influence whether or not adolescents participate in physical activity and exercise. To date, research has not explained why adolescent girls have higher physical activity attrition rates than boys (9). Friendship and competition are relatively important motives for boys, but they appear to be much less important for girls. In contrast, losing weight is a relatively common motive in girls but not in boys. Boys report intrinsic motives more often while girls report extrinsic motives. Health and enjoyment are frequently reported motives between both genders (10). Slater and Tiggemann (11) in their study questioned reasons for young people ceasing participation in sport and physical activity and generated a number of possibilities. The most common were: losing interest or becoming bored with a particular activity and lack of time. Other frequently given reasons included sports not being available, injury and practical issues (e.g. transport) (11). Kirshnit et al. (6) reported that young people quit sports because of conflict with other activities and because of negative and overly professionalized qualities of organized youth sports programmes.

Based on factor analysis, Wold and Kannas (12) suggested in their study three most appropriate motivational factors for sport - health, social and achievement. Motives are considerably different between boys and girls (10). In the Wold and Kannas (12) study, social motivation was more important for girls than for boys. Boys reported higher rates of achievement motivation (12). Another study showed that girls reported lower social and achievement motivation and higher health motivation than boys (13). Apart from gender and age there were also regional differences. Adolescents in the Eastern European countries reported lower health and social motivations and higher achievement motivation than adolescents in Western Europe or North America (13). Social motivation seems to be more important to girls and could be a mechanism for reducing differences in physical activity between boys and girls (14). Litt et al. (14) also suggest that increasing efforts to communicate the health benefits of physical activity may have positive effects on levels of physical activity in adolescents.

Contemporary Eastern European society is rapidly changing, especially in terms of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. The aim of this paper was to analyse motives for young people engaging in leisure time physical activity in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Based on previous research, it is hypothesized that there are three motivational factors (health, social and achievement) which vary by age and gender. …

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