Workplace Physical Activity Barriers and Facilitators: A Qualitative Study Based on Employees Physical Activity Levels

Ayazullah Safi, Matthew Cole, Adam L. Kelly, Mohammaed Gulrez Zariwala, Natalie C. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Lack of time, management support, insufficient facilitates, workload balance, and culture are often reported as common barriers to physical activity (PA) participation in the workplace. In comparison, identifying facilitators of PA in the workplace are scarce. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to overcoming the barriers may also be unsuccessful within university settings where multidisciplinary workforce exists due to the heterogeneity nature of job roles. Thus, the aim of this study was to understand the perceived barriers and facilitators of PA of university employees who were classified as active or inactive based on their job roles. Methods: Forty-one employees (female = 17; male = 24) participated in focus groups to discuss their perceived barriers and facilitators to PA in the workplace. Participants were categorised based on their PA levels as active and inactive prior analysing the semi-structured focus groups data via using thematic analysis. Results and Discussion: The results showed that a lack of time was reported by 80% of the participants as a barrier to PA, including 63% inactive and 17% of the active participants. This included 27% administrators’ staff, 23% academics, 19% senior management, and 11% professional service staff. Over 75% participants reported a lack of management support as one of the perceived barriers to their PA engagement in the workplace. Approximately 58% also reported workplace culture as a barrier to PA participation. Open access to a gym on campus was perceived to be the main facilitator to engaging in PA in the future. Similarly, increased management support for engaging in PA and having flexibility during working days were perceived as facilitators for PA engagement and a way to reduced sedentary behaviour in the workplace. Conclusions: These findings contribute to the limited literature in terms of evaluating obstacles and facilitators of university employees to encourage engagement with PA in the workplace. These findings can be applied to form PA, health, and wellbeing-related interventions specifically targeting these identified barriers that are experienced in the workplace and thereby potentially reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


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