Motivations for physical activity in youth with type 1 diabetes participating in the ActivPals project: a qualitative study

Louise Wilkie, Fiona Mitchell, Kenneth Robertson, Alison Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Around two-thirds of 5–18 year olds fail to meet physical activity (PA) recommendations. Children with type 1 diabetes tend to be less active and more sedentary than non-diabetic peers. Research into motivations for PA in this population is lacking.
We aimed to investigate motivating factors for PA in youth with type 1 diabetes participating in a four-week PA intervention (ActivPals study) to inform the practice of health care professionals promoting PA.
Sixteen semi-structured interviews with participants plus a parent (n = 32) were carried out between May and July 2016. Following completion of the ActivPals intervention, participants who agreed to interview were recruited to this study. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.
Factors contributing to motivation to participate in PA are presented as six key themes and nine sub-themes. The six themes were: ‘motivators related to health’, ‘enjoyment’, ‘self-efficacy’, ‘family and friends participating’, ‘contribution of third parties’ and ‘good weather’.
It was concluded that enjoyment was key to participation in PA and could be increased by goal setting and the involvement of friends and family. Education and support to manage diabetes for PA are crucial in developing self-efficacy to enable sustained behaviour change and health care professionals play a key role in providing this support, as well as having the potential to be a motivating role model. Subjective improvement in blood glucose readings and psychological benefits were also acknowledged to provide motivation for further PA. These motivating factors should be applied in supporting children with type 1 diabetes to engage in PA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
JournalPractical Diabetes
Issue number5
Early online date15 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Physical activity
  • Motivations


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