Many individuals do not engage in sufficient physical activity due to low perceived benefits and high perceived barriers to exercise. Given the increasing incidence of obesity and obesity related health disorders, this topic requires further exploration. We used the Exercise Benefits/Barriers Scale to assess perceived benefit and barrier intensities to exercise in 200 non-exercising female university students (mean age 19.3 years, SD = 1.06) in the UK. Although our participants were selected because they self reported themselves to be non-exercising, however they reported significantly higher perceived benefits from exercise than perceived barriers to exercise [t(199) = 6.18, p <0.001], and their perceived benefit/barrier ratio was 1.33. The greatest perceived benefit from exercise was physical performance followed by the benefits of psychological outlook, preventive health, life enhancement, and then social interaction. Physical performance was rated significantly higher than all other benefits. Psychological outlook and preventive health were not rated significantly different, although both were significantly higher than life enhancement and social interaction. Life enhancement was also rated significantly higher than social interaction. The greatest perceived barrier to exercise was physical exertion, which was rated significantly higher than time expenditure, exercise milieu, and family discouragement barriers. Implications from this investigation for the design of physical activity programmes include the importance, for females, of a perception of high benefit/barrier ratio that could be conducive to participation in exercise. Applied interventions need to assist female students to 'disengage' from or overcome any perceived 'unpleasantness' of physical exertion during physical activity (decrease their perceived barriers), and to further highlight the multiple health and other benefits of regular exercising (increase their perceived benefits). © 2010 by the authors.
|Number of pages
|International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
|Published - 2010
- Female university students
- Physical activity