Exercise as it relates to Disease/Increasing Physical Activity in Sedentary People - Decreasing the inner Couch Potato

This is an analysis of the journal article “Physical activity and sedentary behavior: a population-based study of barriers, enjoyment, and preference” by Salmon, Owen, Crawford, Bauman and Sallis [1].

What is the background to this research?Edit

It is widely known that exercise is beneficial for health, with many studies providing evidence towards it, although it is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide [2]. Physical inactivity has a significant role with the development of cardiovascular disease, other chronic diseases and depression [3]. The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (ages 18-64) recommend 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity, or a combination of both activities each week [4]. There are certain measures that need to be considered to increasing an individual's physical activity status. By identifying an individuals preferences and barriers of physical activity, there is more likely hood for the individual to consistently participate in physical activity [5][6].

Where is the research from?Edit

The research was conducted in Australia by Salmon & Crawford from Deakin University, Owen from University of Queensland, Bauman from University of New South Wales and Sallis from San Diego State University. Salmon was supported by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation and Crawford was supported by both National Heart Foundation Career Development Award and National Health & Medical Research Council.

What kind of research was this?Edit

This is a quantitative research study, as the data was being collected through a Cross-Sectional Survey across Australia [7].

What did the research involve?Edit

3000 participants were randomly selected, through the Australian Electoral Roll, although only 2872 were chosen, as 128 participants were unable to be contacted due to various reasons. For non-responders two reminders were sent out over a 6-week period. The response rate was 46%, with 1332 participants that responded to the various sociodemographic variables , 604 participants were male and 728 were female.

Variables Information
Age Age brackets e.g. 18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60 and over
Education e.g. never attended/primary school, some secondary, completed secondary, tertiary qualification
Occupation e.g. Managers/administrators, clerks, sales, laborers
Employment Status e.g. employed, not currently employed

There were five categories which the participants completed in the survey. The first is Leisure-time physical activity, which was self-reported, though a one-week recall measure. It had assessed frequency and duration in walking, moderate and vigorous activity. The data was categorised in regard to the number of hours the participant had participated in within the week.

The second category is Leisure-time sedentary behaviour, which was also assessed through a one-week recall measure. This included various activities, such as, watching the television and listening to music. The data was also categorised in regards to the number of hours, although, the hours varied depending on the activity that the participant was participating in.

The third category is Barriers to physical activity which was measured using a 5-point Liken scale. Barriers include environmental, such as the weather, and personal including work commitment.

The fourth category is Enjoyment of physical activities and sedentary behaviours, which also used a 5-point Liken scale, to rate 12 physical activities and 9 sedentary behaviours.

The last category is Preference for physical activity or sedentary behaviour, which was assessed in context specific circumstances, with 4 forced-choice items were a specific time of day. The choices for each time were vigorous, moderate physical activity or inactive recreational pastimes.

What the basic results?Edit

The researchers found that with enjoyment and preference were linked to participation to physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Enjoyment was identified to be able to use as a predictor as to whether the individual participates in the physical activity. Whereas preference increased the likelihood for participation.

High barriers to physical activity correlates with the less likelihood of the participants to reach the recommended levels of physical activity. Personal barriers were likely to affect physical activity negatively, whereas environmental barriers were not likely to affect participation in physical activity.

Perceived financial cost impacted on self-report with an increase probability for walking and moderate-intensity activity. In comparison to a decrease likelihood to self-report for vigorous-intensity activity.

It was also stated that participants reporting barriers to physical activity about financial cost and weather, probably were to report with an increase participation in sedentary behaviour.

How did the researchers interpret the results?Edit

The researchers' interpretations of the results linked that the enjoyment, preference and physical activity was high and the likelihood for sedentary behaviour could be related to physical barriers.

It is needed to take into account the limitations of the study, which include, a low response rate of 46%, which then limits the ability to generalise the results to the general population. The population also consisted more women, older adults and higher percentage of participants that were employed, in comparison to the general population.

The sedentary measures that were used in the study recently developed, which would impact on the reliability and validity of the results. The data collect was also self-reported, which is a limitation as it has been shown that physical activity can be over-reported.

What conclusions can we take from this research?Edit

This research demonstrates that through the use of taking into consideration an individual's barriers, enjoyment and preferences for physical activity, it can be used to help create an intervention to increase the likelihood of participation.

It has been shown in previous studies that preference for activity shows that there is an increase for the individual to participate [8]. Environmental barriers also affect participation in physical activity, such as access to a sidewalk [9]. Although it should be noted that these studies are based on a specific population, therefore the results may applied to the general population.

Practical adviceEdit

The research shows a method to help create an intervention for an individual to increase their likelihood for participation. Although it is need to take into consideration the sociodemographic variables, as it is likely to impact the type of physical activity an individual performs, such as age differences and occupation. It would also be necessary for any individual who have health issues that may inhibit them from physical activity, to through a health professional either at the gym or through your GP (general practitioner), to go through the pre-screening exercise tool [10].

Further readingsEdit

Further information on barriers and preferences in regards to physical activity:

Barriers to physical activity: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Barriers_to_Physical_Activity

Perceptions of Physical Activity, Activity Preferences and Health Among a Group of Adult Women in Urban Ghana: A Pilot Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4196530/

Physical Activity Preferences, Preferred Sources of Assistance, and Perceived Barriers to Increased Activity among Physically Inactive Australians: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/14197579_Physical_Activity_Preferences_Preferred_Sources_of_Assistance_and_Perceived_Barriers_to_Increased_Activity_among_Physically_Inactive_Australians


  1. Salmon J, Owen N, Crawford D, Bauman A, Sallis JF. Physical activity and sedentary behavior: a population-based study of barriers, enjoyment, and preference. Health psychology. 2003 Mar;22(2):178.
  2. Kohl HW, Craig CL, Lambert EV, Inoue S, Alkandari JR, Leetongin G, Kahlmeier S, Lancet Physical Activity Series Working Group. The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health. The Lancet. 2012 Jul 27;380(9838):294-305.
  3. Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian medical association journal. 2006 Mar 14;174(6):801-9.
  4. Department of Health | Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines [Internet]. Health.gov.au. 2014 [cited 25 September 2017]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#apaadult
  5. Booth ML, Bauman A, Owen N, Gore CJ. Physical activity preferences, preferred sources of assistance, and perceived barriers to increased activity among physically inactive Australians. Preventive medicine. 1997 Jan 1;26(1):131-7. p.38.
  6. Reichert FF, Barros AJ, Domingues MR, Hallal PC. The role of perceived personal barriers to engagement in leisure-time physical activity. American journal of public health. 2007 Mar;97(3):515-9.
  7. Types of Research - CSRO [Internet]. CSRO. 2015 [cited 25 September 2017]. Available from: http://www.csro.com/portfolio/types-of-research/
  8. Booth ML, Bauman A, Owen N, Gore CJ. Physical activity preferences, preferred sources of assistance, and perceived barriers to increased activity among physically inactive Australians. Preventive medicine. 1997 Jan 1;26(1):131-7. p.38.
  9. Humpel N, Owen N, Leslie E. Environmental factors associated with adults’ participation in physical activity: a review. American journal of preventive medicine. 2002 Apr 30;22(3):188-99.
  10. Adult Pre-exercise Screening System | [Internet]. Essa.org.au. [cited 25 September 2017]. Available from: https://www.essa.org.au/for-gps/adult-pre-exercise-screening-system/