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Perceived barriers and facilitators to workplace exercise participation

Jayden R. Hunter (School of Exercise Science, Sport and Health, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia) (Discipline of Exercise Sciences, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Brett A. Gordon (Discipline of Exercise Physiology, La Trobe Rural Health School, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia)
Stephen R. Bird (Discipline of Exercise Sciences, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Amanda C. Benson (Department of Health and Medical Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia) (Discipline of Exercise Sciences, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 3 October 2018

Issue publication date: 11 October 2018

915

Abstract

Purpose

Workplace exercise programmes have been shown to increase employee participation in physical activities and improve health and fitness in the short-term. However, the limited breadth of employee engagement across organisations combined with declining exercise adherence within individual studies indicates a need for better-informed programmes. The purpose of this paper is to investigate relationships between employee moderate-vigorous physical activity (exercise) participation and their perceived barriers and facilitators to engagement in onsite exercise, to inform the design and implementation of future workplace exercise interventions.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey identified employee demographics, exercise (International Physical Activity Questionnaire), perceived barriers (Corporate Exercise Barriers Scale) and facilitators to exercise at an Australian university.

Findings

Of the 252 full-time employees who responded, most reported meeting (43.7 per cent) or exceeding (42.9 per cent) exercise guidelines over the previous week. A lack of time or reduced motivation (p<0.001), exercise attitude (p<0.05), internal (p<0.01) and external (p<0.01) barriers towards workplace exercise participation were all associated with failure to attain government-recommended volumes of weekly exercise. Personal training (particularly for insufficiently active employees) and group exercise classes were identified as potential exercise facilitators. Walking, gym (fitness centre), swimming and cycling were identified as the preferred modes of exercise training.

Practical implications

Employees not meeting recommended volumes of exercise might require additional support such as individualised gym and cycling programmes with personal supervision to overcome reported exercise barriers to improve exercise participation, health and fitness.

Originality/value

This study identifies specific barriers and facilitators to workplace exercise participation perceived by university employees. These findings can be used to inform the design and implementation of workplace exercise programmes aiming to achieve wider workplace engagement and greater exercise adherence, particularly of less active employees.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The lead author was supported by the Australian Postgraduate Award. No external funding support was provided. No financial or other relationships that might lead to a conflict of interest exist.

Citation

Hunter, J.R., Gordon, B.A., Bird, S.R. and Benson, A.C. (2018), "Perceived barriers and facilitators to workplace exercise participation", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 11 No. 5, pp. 349-363. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-04-2018-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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