A qualitative investigation of attitudes towards aerobic and resistance exercise amongst overweight and obese individuals

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Background: Most people are not meeting the minimal requirements for physical activity participation, particularly people who are overweight or obese. Numerous initiatives have been developed which aim to increase levels of physical activity in this group, yet little is known about their feelings towards different types of exercise. In particular, resistance exercise may offer unique benefits to people seeking to lose weight, yet no study to date has examined views of resistance exercise amongst the overweight and obese. This qualitative study examined the views and attitudes towards aerobic and resistance exercise amongst overweight and obese individuals engaged in a weight management clinic. Methods: 30 overweight and obese patients comprised of 25 females and 5 males, with a mean age of 40.7 years (SD = 15.2) and mean BMI of 33.8 kg/m 2 (SD = 7.9) were recruited from a dietetic clinic to take part in baseline focus groups and interviews to assess their views on physical activity. After selecting and participating in a 12 week aerobic- or resistance-exercise program, the participants took part in follow-up interviews. Thematic analysis was then performed on the transcribed focus group and interview data. Results: For the overweight and obese women in this study, weight loss was the primary motivation for physical activity participation. Subsequently, these women perceived a failure to lose weight as strongly affecting their motivation to continue or re-engage in physical activity. Only 3 participants selected the resistance exercise option. The view of resistance exercise as a masculine activity was a dominant theme amongst all participants. A lack of knowledge of how to perform certain exercises emerged as a barrier, but was seen by the participants as surmountable given appropriate instruction. Conclusions: The females in this study cited weight loss as a primary motivation for physical activity participation. This view must be reconciled with the existing knowledge base of physical activity requirements for successful weight loss and maintenance. Participants in this study had little awareness or experience of resistance exercise, and many were fearful of the potential risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number191
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2012



  • Aerobic
  • Obese
  • Overweight
  • Resistance exercise

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