Barriers and Enabling Factors for Work-Site Physical Activity Programs: A Qualitative Examination

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Work sites offer a productive setting for physical activity (PA) promoting interventions. Still, PA participation remains low. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the reasoning behind commonly reported barriers and enabling factors to participation in PA programs in a work-site setting.


Employees from a large city government were recruited to participate in focus groups, stratified by white- and blue-collar occupations. Responses from open-ended questions about factors influencing participation in PA programs were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Resulting data were analyzed with open and axial coding.


The sample consisted of 60 employees composing 9 focus groups. Although time was the most common barrier between both groups, white-collars workers responded that scheduling and work conflicts were the most common barrier concerning time. Blue-collar workers indicated shift work as their most common barrier. In addition, health was a significant enabling factor for both occupational categories. White-collar workers were much more concerned with appearances and were more highly motivated by weight loss and the hopefulness of quick results than were blue-collar workers.


These findings are important in the understanding of PA as it relates to the reasoning behind participation in work-site programs in regard to occupational status.

The authors are with the Dept of Health Promotion and Education, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Behrens is also with the Dept of Kinesiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

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