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Fiona Moola, Caroline Fusco and Joel A. Kirsh

Despite the benefits of physical activity for youth with congenital heart disease (CHD), most patients are inactive. Although literature has addressed medical and psychological barriers to participation, little is known about the social barriers that youth encounter. This qualitative study explored sociocultural barriers to physical activity from the perspective of 17 youth with CHD. The main theme, “what I wish you knew,” was related to all other themes-youths’ efforts to resolve “disclosure dilemmas,” the barriers they encounter during physical education, and their struggle to understand themselves as normal. The participants’ narratives illuminate the centrality of their sociocultural world to physical activity. The findings call on researchers and educators to attend to the social and cultural environments where these youth live and play.

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Fiona Moola, Guy E.J. Faulkner, Joel A. Kirsh and Jennifer Kilburn

This study explored perceptions toward physical activity and sport in the lives of youth with congenital heart disease. Thirteen cardiac participants were interviewed in the presence of their parents, and a process of inductive analysis was conducted. Sport was not considered a valued pursuit despite the belief that it is essential for the attainment of good health. Low-self efficacy and fatigue were influenced by covert fears and exclusion and further decreased the value ascribed to sport and physical activity. Nontraditional activities, support from others, and perceptions of mastery played a crucial role in enabling participation and facilitated the journey toward recovery. Findings are discussed within the context of self-efficacy theory and may inform the design of safe and enjoyable physical activity opportunities for this population.