Socio-demographic and behavioral variation in barriers to leisure-time physical activity

Scand J Public Health. 2016 Feb;44(1):62-9. doi: 10.1177/1403494815604080. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


Introduction: We examined the socio-demographic and behavioral determinants of perceived barriers to leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) in a population-based sample of working-aged adults.

Methods: Data comprised the National FINRISK 2002 Study, a population-based health examination study. Analyses were restricted to those aged 25-64 years and who perceived that their amount of LTPA did not reach sufficient levels. They reported barriers to LTPA, defined as a lack of time, motivation and lack of companionship to be active with, as well as high expenses. Age, education, household income, employment status, family type, physical activity, smoking and body mass index (BMI) were included as explanatory variables.

Results: Lack of time was the most frequent barrier. Each barrier was explained by a different set of factors that also varied between genders. The strongest and most systematic associations with the barriers were found for age, employment status and family type. Lack of time was less often reported as a barrier among the unemployed, singles without children and older people. Lacking motivation as a barrier was most common among singles without children. High expenses as a barrier was more often reported by the unemployed, and less often reported in the highest income group.

Conclusions: When considering actions to promote LTPA, there is not one single solution, because the perceived barriers vary by population subgroups.

Keywords: Barriers; FINRISK 2002; exercise; health behavior; leisure time; physical activity; population studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Motor Activity*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors