How can lifelong habits such as physical activity be promoted more effectively? Analysing the post 16 gap via a qualitative analysis



Cowley J & I'Anson J (2020) How can lifelong habits such as physical activity be promoted more effectively? Analysing the post 16 gap via a qualitative analysis. Journal of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies, 14 (1), pp. 187-208.

Physical inactivity remains one of the most important factors contributing to global morbidity and mortality, with inactivity estimated to result in as many as 5 million deaths globally per annum. It is evident that adolescence is an influential time for forging change and promoting lifelong physical activity (PA) It is estimated that 60% of young people will not participate in PA post compulsory education; a phenomenon that has been labelled the ‘post-16 gap’. Previous studies have identified several key barriers to Physical Education, Physical activity and Sport (PEPAS). However, there is a paucity of qualitative evidence investigating why young people do and do not participate in PA and the relationship between their levels of participation at different stages of life. This study mobilises theory to investigate why young people discontinue participation in exercise, sport and PA, whilst analysing reasons for this post compulsory education decline. Methods: Twenty-four respondents aged 16-19 were divided into five focus groups. Data were analysed verbatim using NVivo following the guidelines by Braun and Clark (2006) on thematic analysis. Findings and conclusion: Several key barriers and facilitators of participation in PA were identified. Previous negative experiences within PE contexts were perceived as a major barrier to continued PA. Respondents thought that PE Teachers focused primarily on physically capable students, leading to feelings of incompetence in others. Most respondents equated PA with team sports. Findings suggest that Physical Educators need to acknowledge how past and present experience of PE impacts young people’s future motivation to continue PA beyond school.

Journal of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies: Volume 14, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online23/12/2020
Date accepted by journal01/12/2020
Publisher URL…n-Sports-Studies

People (2)


Dr Joe Cowley

Dr Joe Cowley

Lecturer in Education (PE & Health), Education

Dr John I'Anson

Dr John I'Anson

Senior Lecturer, Education