Abstract

Background

Physical activity independent of adult supervision is an important component of youth physical activity. This study examined parental attitudes to independent activity, factors that limit licence to be independently active and parental strategies to facilitate independent activity.

Methods

In-depth phone interviews were conducted with 24 parents (4 males) of 10–11-year-old children recruited from six primary schools in Bristol.

Results

Parents perceived that a lack of appropriate spaces in which to be active, safety, traffic, the proximity of friends and older children affected children's ability to be independently physically active. The final year of primary school was perceived as a period when children should be afforded increased licence. Parents managed physical activity licence by placing time limits on activity, restricting activity to close to home, only allowing activity in groups or under adult supervision.

Conclusions

Strategies are needed to build children's licence to be independently active; this could be achieved by developing parental self-efficacy to allow children to be active and developing structures such as safe routes to parks and safer play areas. Future programmes could make use of traffic-calming programmes as catalysts for safe independent physical activity.

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