Psychosocial perspectives of sport and exercise participation during adolescence
Scientific evidence attests to the health-related benefits of habitual physical activity. Coexisting with this evidence are findings which show that most people do not exercise with sufficient frequency, intensity or duration to accrue the benefits associated with participation. The focus of concern in the current research was on an adolescent population. In this cross-sectional study patterns of sport and exercise participation were related to self and social factors. The survey contained the Physical Self-Perception Profile-PSPP (Fox and Corbin, 1989) used to examine self-perceptions in the physical domain; the Perceived Importance Profile-PIP (Fox and Corbin, 1989) used to investigate the importance of feeling competent in each of the PSPP subdomains; scales especially designed for this research which measured socialisation influences on physical activity; and a scale to measure 'body-constancy', a factor thought to relate to the disruption/inconvenience associated with activity. Altogether, data were collected from 604 young people from ages 11 to 18 years (mean age 13.26, sd 1.48). The results showed a significant downward trend in participation with age, with males more active than females at all ages. However mean levels of participation were above the recommended minimum, suggesting that only the minority were sedentary. Males scored significantly higher than their female counterparts on all self-perception variables, as well as perceiving greater peer support for activity. There was an equal perceived influence from parents, although this declined with age. Further evidence for the validity of the PSPP was obtained from this sample. The results supported the notion that the process of down-rating competence acts to buffer self-esteem, but further work was advocated to validate the PIP with adolescents. Regression analysis showed that physical self-perceptions, perceived importance, peer and parental influence, age and gender all contributed to the prediction of participation. Altogether, 26% (adjusted) of the variability in participation was predicted. The results were discussed in a developmental context, which considered the future for youth sport participation.