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


‘‘Fun’’ identified by Hispanic immigrant children as primary driver of physical activity

This study is based on a concern identified through previous research that first- and second-generation Hispanic children are at an increased risk of obesity and that they engage in low levels of physical activity. To address this concern, the present study sought to explore physical activity perceptions, context, facilitators, and barriers from the perspective of Hispanic immigrant-origin children.

Fourteen first- and second- generation Hispanic children (age 6 – 11) participated in this study. They were recruited from an afterschool program for low-income children in a semi-urban city in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Child observations, field notes, semi-structured interviews, and a PhotoVoice activity were used to collect information relating to the participants’ physical activity. The lead researcher for this study volunteered daily at the children’s afterschool program over a period of four months. Child observations with field notes were conducted throughout this entire time. The researcher also conducted semi-structured individual interviews and a PhotoVoice activity individually with all fourteen participants.

For the PhotoVoice activity, each child was given a disposable camera and asked to take pictures over a period of 7 days of anything they believed to be related to their physical activity or play. After the photos were developed, the researcher met with each child to talk about the photos and how they related to the child’s physical activity.

Major themes identified through an analysis of the data related to the following four categories: physical activities and contexts, physical activity attitudes and perceptions, physical activity as play, and physical activity facilitators and barriers. Findings indicated that the children perceived physical activity and play to be one and the same and identified ‘‘fun’’ as a primary driver of their physical activity preferences. While the children were aware of the physical and social benefits of engaging in physical activity, they also expressed some negative attitudes toward physical activity. They noted physical discomfort, low athletic competence, and safety concerns as barriers. They also noted their parents’ work schedules and lack of space as barriers.

Facilitators of the children’s physical activity included companions or partners, such as friends, parents, or other family members. Facilitators also included some neighborhood resources, such as parks and bike paths. While parks were cited as the most popular location for physical activity, many children mentioned that they were not allowed to go to the park on their own because of the distance to the park or safety concerns of the parents.

Implications of this study include the idea that an emphasis on fun and active play, while taking into account family and neighborhood context, may be a desirable intervention approach for increasing physical activity levels in Hispanic immigrant-origin children.


Taverno Ross, S.E., Francis, L.A., (2016). Physical activity perceptions, context, barriers, and facilitators from a Hispanic child’s perspective. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 11


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