What prevents physical activity in children?

This is the result of a Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) School of Nursing research project which analyzed self-efficacy or motivation of 120 children between 7 and 10 years of age in a Bogotá Los Mártires neighborhood school.

UNal School of Nursing master’s candidate (cardiovascular health line) Ángela Lucila Barrios Díaz, says the project emerged from the world overweight, obesity and sedentarism issue in children as well as the factor influencing little physical activity which increases the levels of this phenomenon.

According to the World Health Organization in 2010, 4.3 million children around the word were overweight or obese and two thirds of them were in developing countries, for instance Colombia. 30% of these children already are in risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Colombian National Nutritional Situation Survey (ENSIN, for its Spanish acronym) showed that in 2010 close to 17% of Colombian school children were overweight or obese.

“The purpose of my project was to measure the self-efficacy level (motivation and trust concept) and describe the aspects which influence motivation in children. There is a series of factors of children in regards to family, school and the environment which are producing barriers,” said Barrios.

Three categories emerged from the aforementioned project. For instance, she discovered than half the children had difficulty to overcome barriers (one of the categories) as they had prior school abuse or bullying experiences.

Another of the aspects discovered was gender barriers, such as girls that said they did not want to engage in physical activity, such as soccer because they were stigmatized as boyish or tomboys. Furthermore they were also cases of having to do physical activity as punishment, in other words being obligated to exercise as consequence of committing some kind of mistake or breaking rules.

Another category is the capacity expectancy or competitiveness. This is the case of children showing low capability level or motivation due to some kind of physical issue which led them to feel that lacked corporal capacity to practice physical activities.

Lastly another category was a common aspect related to the role of the family, in which children felt lonely. A family can motivate a child to engage in physical activity but can also turn into a barrier if they are left alone or their parents are separated.

Thanks to the research project, they produced a child converging and bidirectional physical activity model which integrates sources of self-efficacy (what the child hears, sees, does and feels when engaging in physical activity), with their reality or environment (family, school, friends, socially and culturally).

Using these sources they can produce health proposals and models directed to particularities of Colombian children in order to build factors which positively or negatively influence physical activity and which may be faced from school, family or society.

Agencia  de noticias Unal |

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