WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

Font Size: 
High School Girls' Perceptions of Environmental and Social Support for Physical Activity
Liliane Bamurange Kirenga

Last modified: 2012-02-07


Purpose: The purpose was to determine high school girls’ perceptions regarding environmental and social support for physical activity. The objectives of the study were to determine the patterns of physical activity participation (vigorous and moderate) among high school girls in Kigali- Rwanda; their perceived social support for physical activity in and outside the school environment as well as their enjoyment of physical activity and physical education. The study also wanted to establish the association between perceived support for physical activity and patterns of participation.

Relevance: The impact of non-communicable diseases influences physiotherapy services as they are indicated in the prevention and rehabilitation process. Most of the challenging chronic health problems that might result in disabilities rehabilitated by physiotherapists are caused by risk factors due to physical inactivity. Therefore, the role of physiotherapists in health promotion, disease prevention and education in primary health comes into effect.

Participants: A total of 350 high school girls for the academic year 2008-2009 aged 13 to 19 years were selected using a stratified random sampling technique.

Methods: A descriptive study using a cross sectional survey was used. A self-administered questionnaire, including questions from the Physical Education Program Improvement and Self-study as well as the Modifiable Adolescent Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to collect data.

Analysis: Descriptive and inferential statistics were calculated with the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.0. Chi square and student t-tests were used to determine the association between perceived support and socio demographic characteristics. Alpha level was set at 0.05.

Results: The majority of learners did not to meet the average of days required for moderate days of physical activity (66%) as well as for vigorous days of physical activity (70.9%). Almost one third (34%the participants were classified as physically active while 66% were   classified as physically inactive when the WHO’s guidelines for classification of physical activity was used. The overall study sample responded positively when asked about support for physical activity in the school environment. Furthermore, the overall study sample                                     responded positively to friends’ support but negatively when asked about the family support. Significant differences were observed between support from family and friends, social support and moderate physical activity (p<0.05).

Conclusions: The findings of the present study highlight the need for the planning and implementation of a physical activity intervention program for high school girls in Rwanda.

Implications: The physiotherapists in Rwanda will be challenged and helped by the results of this study to develop more preventive measures of such chronic health problems rather than rehabilitating them. This will be done through promoting physical activity, which is likely to prevent chronic conditions including back pain, chronic diseases of lifestyle and some disabilities. There is a need for intervention programmes that may serve as a strategy to raise awareness about the importance of physical activity among youth in general and girls specifically.

Key words: Physical activity; Adolescent girls; Social Support

Funding Source Acknowledgment: The work was not funded.

Conference registration is required in order to view papers.