Physical Activity and Sport Participation Among Adolescents from MENA

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source of Publication

Global Perspectives on Health Geography

Publication Date



Physical activity is positively associated with short- and long-term mental and physical health effects. Adolescence represents a sensitive period of development and habit formation, during which the adoption of healthy behaviors such as physical activity is critical. A low level of physical activity is a key risk factor for the development of chronic diseases throughout the life course. Physical activity levels decline among adolescents with age, especially among girls. Encouraging physical activity early during childhood development and into adolescence may increase perceived self-efficacy and may enhance levels of physical activity later in life. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have experienced many changes over the past two decades, including significant economic, sociodemographic, industrial, and political transformations, such as high levels of urbanization, loss of green space, and heavy reliance on vehicles for transportation. These changes along with other country-specific factors may present distinct constraints to physical activity among adolescents. This chapter focuses on the prevalence of physical activity and sport participation and their related constraints that adolescents experience in the MENA region. It presents a literature review on physical activity among adolescents in the MENA, followed by results of a brief study on the prevalence of sport participation among adolescents from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Results suggest that culturally appropriate community- and school-based interventions are required to improve overall physical activity levels of adolescents in MENA countries. Regionally, examinations and assessments of specific constraints are key to identify patterns of physical activity and sport participation and to formulate interventions that have the capacity to increase these sport participation levels. General recommendations that have the potential to increase adolescent physical activity and sport participation include increasing awareness and knowledge on the related benefits, providing adequate support and encouragement for adolescents from MENA in relation to physical activity and sport participation, as well as ensuring related opportunities are available within school programs.




Springer International Publishing

First Page


Last Page



Medicine and Health Sciences

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access