How do young people in Test Valley feel about physical activity?

Date: 14 April 2023   Author: Energise Me

If you’ve ever been curious about how young people feel about physical activity, our latest survey provides an interesting snapshot from Test Valley.


A couple of years ago we published our Me and Activity report, examining how young people across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight felt about physical activity.

The report made 6 recommendations for supporting young people to be physically active:

  1. Focus on accessibility
  2. Weigh the benefits of investing in digital resources
  3. Hold frequent consultations with young people
  4. Celebrate the relationship between physical activity and mental health
  5. Offer free or subsidised activities in conjunction with paid programmes
  6. Invest in tackling the underlying issue of motivation

Recently we had the chance to add more responses as part of Young People’s Community Safety Week. Local schools in Test Valley offered to complete the Me and Activity survey as a way of starting conversations around the role of physical activity in keeping safe.

I wish communities gave more opportunities to children at a young age to help them get involved.

Alice, 13

What’s important to young people in Test Valley?

The types of activity that children and young people in Test Valley like to do reflect what is available to them – often through school. The most popular activities were walking, football, and swimming.

Young people’s main motivations for doing an activity were, “I loved the activity” and “It made me feel good”.

Their main barriers to being active were “I wasn’t motivated to be active”, ” I didn’t feel confident to be active”, and “I didn’t have people around to be active with”.

Young people specifically mentioned feeling insecure about their appearance, and the difficulty in moving from wanting and planning to be active, to actually being active.

I became really insecure about my body appearance and how people would think of me and I was scared people would bully me because of my lack of motivation to exercise after lockdown.

Kelsey, 12

What would young people change?

When offered a magic wand to change anything about their community, young people’s main wishes were:

  • to be able to do ‘more’
  • to be better/faster/stronger
  • for school sports to be more enjoyable
  • for inclusive activities

One girl said “at my school we have a girls’ group, boys’ group and a mixed group. I am in the mixed group and have none of my friends in it and I feel sad when I do it sometimes because I don’t have my friends around me.”

I wish that I wouldn't feel afraid of being judged when doing physical activity.

Female, 14

Top tips for supporting young people to be active

  1. Understand what activities are available in your area so you can help signpost young people to things that interest them.
  2. Promote active travel and non-traditional, or non-sport physical activities.
  3. Capitalise on enjoyment!
  4. Promote and protect a safe and inclusive space, where young people can grow their confidence, skills, and friendships.

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