A Qualitative, Longitudinal Study Exploring Obese Adolescents’ Attitudes Toward Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Individuals’ attitude toward physical activity may contribute to their willingness to participate in such behavior. This study qualitatively and longitudinally explored obese adolescents’ attitudes to physical activity.


Fifteen obese adolescents were recruited at a weight loss camp. Participants were followed for 2.5 years with 3 yearly rounds of participant observations and interviews. Data were analyzed using a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach.


Four categories were identified: 1) throughout the study participants became more sedentary as they de-selected activities like bike riding; 2) participants did not perceive their increasing inactive lifestyle as hindering weight loss as they consider such activities as futile compared with vigorously hard exercise; 3) participants frequently failed to participate in hard exercise, like going to the gym; and 4) participants had a genuine antipathy against being physical active.


Among others, a reason why obese adolescents fail to live an active life is that they find limited pleasure in such behavior. It is argued that obese adolescents need a positive attitude toward physical activity if they are to be more active. With reference to Bourdieu’s theory of practice, it is hypothesized that such attitude needs to be learned through everyday life by experiencing joy and meaning by being physical active.

Lindloff and Nielsen are with the Dept of Clinical Social Medicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Midtjylland, Denmark. Pedersen is with the Nursing Research Unit, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Fyn, Denmark.