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Barriers to Exercise Exist for Middle-Aged White Women, Study Shows

Thursday May 26, 2011
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A majority of white women between ages 40 and 60 report that they are too tired or too self-conscious to exercise, according to an article in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing.

Published by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the article examines the results of a six-month online study that focused on the most common reason this specific group of American women did not participate in physical activity.

The article highlights three major themes:

1. Thinking Without Action: Participants had a positive attitude toward physical activity, and they understood the necessity of such activity for their physical and mental well being. However, many reported that they were unable to take action to increase physical activity because it was often not prioritized as highly as caring for their families or focusing on their careers.

2. Gendered and Sedentary Culture: Participants felt that American culture supports physical fitness but also encourages sedentary lifestyles. They also mentioned that gender roles were a factor in the type of exercise they engaged in, such as yoga and dance, and the venue in which the exercise took place.

3. Motivation: Participants did their best to make physical activities a routine part of their lives. For many participants, this meant finding a companion with whom they could talk and share ideas about fitness, but they still fell short of meeting their fitness goals.

“Ultimately, these themes suggest that women are doing their best by trying to motivate themselves, but their busy lives and traditional gender roles in American culture are holding them back,” Karen Peddicord, RNC, PhD, the CEO of AWHONN, said in a news release. “This is why it’s so important for women’s health nurses to open the lines of communication and help their patients create an exercise program that fits into their personal lifestyles.”

The article — “Attitudes Toward Physical Activity of White Midlife Women,” by Eun-Ok Im, RN, PhD, MPH, CNS, FAAN; Bokim Lee, RN, PhD, MPH; Wonshik Chee, PhD; and Alexa Stuifbergen, PhD, FAAN — runs in the May/June issue. View the outline of the study at http://bit.ly/mFDJFR.

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