Investigating adolescent girls’ perceptions and experiences of school-based physical activity to inform the Girls’ Peer Activity (G-PACT) intervention study

Michael Owen, Charlotte Kerner, L. Newson, Robert Noonan, Whitney Curry, Maria Christina Kosteli, Stuart Fairclough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


ABSTRACT BACKGROUND Adolescent girls are more likely to be inactive than boys. A range of factors including multiple psychosocial aspects are thought to influence their engagement in physical activity (PA). This study aimed to explore adolescent girls’ perceptions and experiences of school-based PA to inform a subsequent intervention, the Girls Peer Activity (G-PACT) project. METHODS The Youth Activity Profile was used to assess adolescent girls’ current PA levels. Open-ended questions were used to investigate girls’ perceptions and experiences of school-based PA. Focus groups stratified by PA level were then conducted to explore their perceptions and experiences in depth. The focus group data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. RESULTS The master themes emanating from the focus groups were non-competitive activities and after-school sport culture for lower active girls. Higher active girls’ master themes were PA perceptions and PE. Regardless of activity level, participants reported greater enjoyment from PA when participating with friends and having choice over activities provided within the school setting. CONCLUSIONS The findings highlight the importance of choice, peer groupings, non-competitive opportunities and PA competence to adolescent girls’ school-based PA behaviours. The school environment can support and restrict girls’ engagement in PA. The findings will be applied to the design, content and implementation of the G-PACT project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-738
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number9
Early online date30 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jun 2019



  • Physical Activity
  • Adolescent
  • Girls
  • School
  • Exploration

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