Factors Affecting Physical Activity in Ecuadorian Adolescents: A Focus Group Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Physical inactivity levels are increasingly prevalent among Ecuadorian adolescents. School-based interventions can be potentially effective in promoting physical activity but must be informed by cultural-specific factors.


Twelve focus groups were carried out with adolescents (n = 80) in rural and urban Ecuador to identify factors influencing physical activity. In addition, 4 focus group discussions with parents (n = 32) and 4 with school staff (n = 32) were conducted. Individual and environmental factors were questioned using the ‘Attitude, Social influences and Self-efficacy’ model and the socioecological model as theoretical frameworks.


Factors influencing physical activity varied between groups. In the rural area farming and norms for girls impeded leisure-time physical activity, whereas urban groups emphasized traffic and crime concerns. Groups from a low socioeconomic status more frequently mentioned a fear of injuries and financial constraints. Several factors were common for all groups including preferences for sedentary activities, poor knowledge, time constraints and laziness, as well as a lack of opportunities at home and school, unsupportive parental rules and lack of role models.


A conceptual framework including the identified factors emerged to inform the design of a cultural-sensitive school-based intervention to improve physical activity among Ecuadorian adolescents. Future interventions should be tailored to each setting.

Van Royen (kathleen.vanroyen@ua.ac.be), Verstraeten, Andrade, Ochoa-Avilés, Donoso, and Kolsteren are with the Dept of Food Safety and Food Quality, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Verstraeten and Kolsteren are also with the Nutrition and Child Health Unit, Dept of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium. Andrade, Ochoa-Avilés, and Donoso are also with the Food, Nutrition, and Health Programme, Universidad de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador. Van Royen is also with the Dept of Communication Studies, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. Maes is with the Dept of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.