BackgroundEvidence suggests that environments impact behaviour, including physical activity (PA). The aim was to understand where young people are physically active and the environmental contexts to their activity. To explore how they perceived both barriers to, and enablers for, PA in their environment.MethodsFocus groups were conducted with five groups aged 16-20 years (n = 42; 29 male, 13 female) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England between November 2006 and June 2007. Analysis was an iterative process of looking for broad themes and subthemes across the transcripts.ResultsThemes explored included their main environment; perceptions of their environment; PA and where they are active; activity in the past and safety concerns. Emergent themes included working and PA, transport and activity, limitations of the environment to PA and gender differences. Our results suggest PA was distributed across a range of environments, rather than focused in one locale, or setting.ConclusionsObesity in young people is a major concern and prevention of obesity a high priority. Little is known about the PA behaviours of this age group and the context of these behaviours during this period of transition. Understanding lifestyle behaviours such as PA and context of activity is an important first step in development interventions to encourage greater activity in this transitory age group.