Too fat to exercise? Obesity as a barrier to physical activity

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2000 Jun;24(3):331-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2000.tb01579.x.


Objective: To describe perceptions of being 'too fat' as a barrier to physical activity by gender and body mass index, and to examine the associations between feeling fat and other weight-related barriers to physical activity.

Methods: Analyses of cross-sectional self-report data from a representative population survey of 2,298 Australian adults.

Results: Overall, 4.4% of respondents reported being too fat as a barrier to physical activity; this being more common among women (6.2%), and among the obese (22.6%). Associations were found between being too fat as a barrier, and being too shy or embarrassed to exercise; being too lazy or not motivated; having an injury or disability (males only); and being not the sporty type (females only). There was no association between feeling too fat and poor health.

Conclusions: Feeling too fat to exercise is a common barrier among the overweight, particularly for women. Results suggest gender differences in weight-related barriers to physical activity.

Implications: A better understanding of the nature of weight-related physical activity barriers can help inform public health strategies designed to increase physical activity among those who are obese.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Victoria / epidemiology