Physical activity perceptions, context, barriers, and facilitators from a Hispanic child's perspective

Sharon E.Taverno Ross, Lori A. Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: In order to develop effective physical activity interventions and to address the burden of obesity in Hispanic children, qualitative studies are needed to build descriptive theory and expand the state of the science. The purpose of this study is to describe physical activity perceptions, context, facilitators, and barriers from the perspective of Hispanic immigrant-origin children. Method: This in-depth, ethnographic study included 14, 6- to 11-year old, first- and second- generation Hispanic children recruited from an afterschool program in Southeastern Pennsylvania, USA. Methods included child observation, field notes, semi-structured interviews, and a PhotoVoice activity. Transcripts and field notes were coded and analyzed using the constant comparison method to identify overarching themes and patterns in the data. Results: Data analysis yielded four overarching themes regarding children's perspectives on physical activity. Children engaged in a variety of physical activities and sedentary behaviors, which differed by physical (e.g., park, outside home, and afterschool programs) and social (e.g., parents, siblings, and friends) contexts. Children discussed specific benefits of physical activity. Children's negative attitudes toward physical activity were related to physical discomfort, low athletic competence, and safety concerns. Children perceived physical activity and play to be one in the same, and "fun" was identified as a primary driver of physical activity preferences. The facilitators and barriers to physical activity were related to specific parent/home, school, and neighborhood factors. Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest that an emphasis on fun and active play, while taking into account family and neighborhood context, may be a desirable intervention approach in Hispanic immigrant-origin children. This study lays the groundwork for future studies to further explore some of the themes identified here to better understand children's conceptualization of and experience with physical activity. Such research may inform the design of programs to increase physical activity or active play, and ultimately promote health and well-being, in this at-risk population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31949
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
StatePublished - Aug 16 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Gerontology
  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Health Policy


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