Participation in recreational physical activity: why do socioeconomic groups differ?

Health Educ Behav. 2003 Apr;30(2):225-44. doi: 10.1177/1090198102251036.


This qualitative study explored how influences on recreational physical activity (RPA) were patterned by socioeconomic position. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 10 males and 10 females in three socioeconomic groups (N = 60). Influences salient across all groups included previous opportunities, physical health. social assistance. safety. environmental aesthetics and urban design, physical and health benefits, and barriers of self-consciousness, low skill, and weather/time of year. Influences more salient to the high socioeconomic group included social benefits, achieving a balanced lifestyle, and the barrier of an unpredictable lifestyle. Influences more salient to the high and mid socioeconomic groups included efficacy, perceived need, activity demands, affiliation, emotional benefits, and the barrier of competing demands. Influences more salient to the low socioeconomic group included poor health and barriers of inconvenient access and low personal functioning. Data suggest that efforts to increase RPA in the population should include both general and socioeconomically targeted strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Psychosocial Deprivation
  • Queensland
  • Sampling Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors*