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Perception of barriers in physical activity participation among middle-aged adults: a qualitative study

Shivangi Sharma (Department of Physiotherapy, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara, India)
Ammar Suhail (Department of Physiotherapy, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara, India)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 4 March 2022

Issue publication date: 2 August 2022




This study aims to explore perceived barriers to participating in regular physical activity (PA) among middle-aged adults in Una, Himachal Pradesh, India.


This study used qualitative methodology. The authors conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews among adults between 40 and 60 years of age. Eleven interviews were conducted in participants’ vernacular language and were audio-recorded. The recordings were transcribed, and emergent findings were evaluated and interpreted using an open-ended method.


PA was mostly related to household chores by female participants. Male participants considered their daily tasks synonymous with PA. The main barriers identified were lack of enthusiasm/time, advancing age and declining health status, misperceptions of being physically active, lack of skill/knowledge, family responsibilities, lack of social support, lack of open spaces, parks and other facilities, and social restrictions due to the pandemic.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study will aid in designing better interventions targeted at promoting PA. Identification of the existing modifiable barriers can be a target source for most public health programs.

Practical implications

The barriers existing among the community must be addressed to achieve the recommended level of PA. The promotional strategies should focus on individual factors, such as increasing self-efficiency and knowledge about recommended levels of PA. The social barriers must also be addressed through peer support and group-based activities. Health policies should emphasize making societies more active by ensuring more open spaces and parks.


Barriers to PA may differ among the socioeconomic strata and geographical locations. The present study explored barriers among working adults in an urban Indian setting.



Sharma, S. and Suhail, A. (2022), "Perception of barriers in physical activity participation among middle-aged adults: a qualitative study", Working with Older People, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 196-206.



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