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During adolescence children distance themselves from their parents and become part of a peer group. This emancipation process is normal. It is necessary for adolescents to form peer group relationships as these relationships provide them with the opportunity to develop and socialise in a safe environment. The aims of the study were to determine the perceived physical characteristics and personal and social aspects regarding participation in physical activity among ethnic groups and boys and girls, and to compare these viewpoints with those of adolescents of ten years ago. An adolescent lifestyle questionnaire was used to collect data. The schools (N=30) were randomly selected and learners (N=60) from Grades 9 and 11 were randomly selected from each school. The ages of the respondents (N=880) ranged from 15 to 17 years. The data were statistically analysed with Statsoft Statistica, Version 10. Both White and Coloured adolescents considered it much more important to be ‘in’ with their peers than to be physically fit, while boys and girls regarded looking good as more important than being academically good. White and Coloured adolescents took part in physical activity for health reasons. Coloured adolescents viewed sport as a tool to a better life, while white adolescents viewed it as a form of relaxation. Boys found sport more important than girls did, which could be attributed to the way children of different genders are raised. Few parents were involved in their children’s sports participation.
Keywords: Adolescents, personal and social aspects, gender; race, physical activity.