“When You Move You Have Fun”: Perceived Barriers, and Facilitators of Physical Activity From a Child's Perspective

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In Northern Ireland (NI), many children do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity (PA). To reduce the prevalence of physical inactivity and associated health conditions, it is important to understand the influences on children's PA, which in turn has the potential to inform future intervention design. The purpose of this formative study was to examine the current views, barriers, facilitators, experiences, and perceptions of children in relation to PA in the classroom, school, and home environments, and to assess the acceptability of components for a school-based intervention. Write and draw tasks and semi-structured focus groups (n = 10) were conducted with 50 children aged 7–9 years (22 boys, 28 girls) from six primary schools. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed thematically. Pen profiles were constructed from the transcripts in a deductive manner and represent key emergent themes. Results indicated that children's perception and knowledge of PA was mainly structured and sport-based, while some referred to fun, play and health. Fun, social support and outdoor activity were identified as key facilitators. Barriers included parental restrictions, lack of time and space in the different environments. The acceptability of intervention components was examined, children recognized the potential benefits of additional movement in the classroom, but opinions differed on the sit-to-stand desks. Findings contribute to a more detailed understanding of children's perceptions of context specific PA, the barriers they face, in addition to factors that support them to lead a physically active lifestyle, which may inform future PA promotion strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number789259
Number of pages15
Journal Frontiers in Sports and Active Living
Early online date7 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 7 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
SN was supported by Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke (NICHS), Belfast, UK. NR was supported by a National Heart Foundation of Australia Future Leader Fellowship (ID101895). JS was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Leadership Level 2 Fellowship (APP1176885). NICHS were not involved in the design of the study or collection, analysis, and interpretation of data or in writing the manuscript. No other sources of funding were used to assist in the conduct of this review or the preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Nally, Ridgers, Gallagher, Murphy, Salmon and Carlin.


  • Children
  • Health
  • Qualitative analysis
  • School
  • Qualitative
  • Physical activity
  • children
  • qualitative—quantitative analysis
  • school
  • health
  • physical activity


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