Barriers to Physical Activity in a Mass Transit Population: A Qualitative Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The physical inactivity epidemic continues be one of the greatest public health challenges in contemporary society in the United States. The transportation industry is at greater risk of physical inactivity, compared with individuals in other sectors of the workforce. The aim of this study was to use the Nominal Group Technique, a focus group technique, to examine mass transit employees’ perceptions of the barriers to physical activity at their worksite.


Three focus groups (n = 31) were conducted to examine mass transit employees’ perceptions of barriers to physical activity at the worksite.


Salient barriers included (1) changing work schedules, (2) poor weather conditions, and (3) lack of scheduled and timely breaks.


Findings were consistent with previous research demonstrating shift work, poor weather, and lack of breaks can negatively impact mass transit employees’ ability to be physically active. Although physical activity barriers for this population have been consistent for the last 20 years, public health practice and policy have not changed to address these barriers. Future studies should include conducing focus groups stratified by job classification (eg, operators, maintenance, and clerical) along with implementing and evaluating worksite-based physical activity interventions and policy changes.

Das ( is with the Dept of Kinesiology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Petruzzello is with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.