Psychosocial factors associated with the leisure time physical activity of Chinese children and adolescents: A mixed-method study

Jing Qi *, Lijuan Wang ** and Qidi Li ***

(*) College of Physical Education and Health Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, China
(**) School of Physical Education and Sport Training, Shanghai University of Sport, China
(***) Institute for Educational Reform amd Development, Zhejiang Normal University, China

The physical inactivity of children and adolescents remains to be widespread and China is no exception. By using a mixed-method approach, the current study examines the psychosocial factors that could account for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) engagement amongst Chinese children and adolescents based on theory of planned behaviour (TPB). For the quantitative study component, 353 Chinese children and adolescents (9 to 14 years; M age = 11.40) have completed the baseline measures of MVPA attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control (PBC). Accelerometers are used to measure the MVPA duration of the children and adolescents one week later. By using quota sampling, the qualitative component involves semi-structured individual interviews with 30 children and adolescents (M age = 10.87) addressing their perceptions on MVPA intention and behaviour based on TPB. The quantitative results of the study corroborate that intention, but not PBC, is directly related to the leisure-time MVPA (b = 0.27, P <0.001) and explains 9.00% of the variance in the leisure-time MVPA. Meanwhile, attitude and PBC have a significant indirect relationship with the leisure-time MVPA through intentions (b = 0.04, P <0.05; b = 0.13, P <0.05) and predict 33.2% of the variance in intention. The qualitative analysis has identified specific factors influencing children and adolescent leisure-time MVPA, including factors based on TPB and three factors independent of TPB. Chinese children and adolescents need targeted informational resources and programs to enhance their behavioural beliefs and self-efficacy for promoting their leisure-time MVPA.

Keywords: Social cognitive theory, young students, leisure-time physical activity