Factors associated with perceptions of parental support and enjoyment for physical activity in U.S. adolescent girls

Sloan Skinner, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The health benefits of physical activity are widely established, including decreased risk of obesity and other chronic diseases, as well decreased risk of premature death. Most adolescent girls in the United States do not get sufficient physical activity, and their physical activity levels decline throughout adolescence. Both enjoyment of physical activity and parental support for physical activity have been shown to have positive associations with physical activity in adolescent girls. The aim of this study was to examine variations in girls' reported enjoyment and parental support for physical activity by age, ethnicity, type of current physical activity participation (e.g. PE class and/or organized sports teams), whether girls met physical activity guidelines, and overall physical activity level. This is a secondary analysis of cross-sectional data collected in 2010, which is nationally representative and consists of high school girls from all 50 states and the District of Columbia (n = 5,642). Data were analyzed in 2014. There was an apparent gradient in parental support and enjoyment scores across the sports team participation index. The more sports teams on which girls played, the lower their enjoyment scores were and the higher their parental support scores were. Mean enjoyment scores were higher among girls who did not meet VPA and MPVA guidelines than among those who did meet guidelines. Findings for parental support and meeting guidelines were in the expected direction - mean parental support scores were higher in girls who meet VPA and girls who met MVPA guidelines. Overall physical activity levels were higher in girls with higher mean parental support scores and lower in girls with higher mean enjoyment scores. Future interventions to increase physical activity in low-active girls should take advantage of this, and use girls' existing perceived enjoyment of physical activity to encourage them to actually do it more often rather than necessarily having to overcome a perception that physical activity is not enjoyable.

Subject Area

Public Health Education|Public health|Kinesiology|Individual & family studies|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Skinner, Sloan, "Factors associated with perceptions of parental support and enjoyment for physical activity in U.S. adolescent girls" (2014). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1569941.