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Researchers from the Center for Obesity Research and Education and the department of kinesiology at Temple University found that obese women face a significant number of barriers when it comes to exercise, more so than their normal weight counterparts.

The Study

278 women, both normal weight and obese, were enrolled in a 12 month physical activity encouragement study.

Throughout the study, the women were questioned to determine what factors might be keeping them from exercising.

Some of those factors were:

  • Feeling self-conscious;
  • Not wanting to fail;
  • Fearing injury;
  • Perceived poor health
  • Having minor aches or pains
  • Feeling too overweight to exercise

Results

Throughout the study, the obese women reported more barriers to exercise than the “normal” weight women.

Additionally, the obese women with the most barriers to exercise were the least likely to be exercising at the conclusion of the study.

Conclusion

Whether or not those barriers to exercise were real or imagined, they present a real problem.

Exercise may or may not be an effective treatment for obesity. But there is little doubt that exercise provides numerous health benefits to those willing and able to put in the effort.

If obese women (or other groups – disabled, seniors) are less likely to exercise due to perceived barriers, they are more likely to suffer from various chronic conditions above and beyond obesity.

Finding a way to minimize these barriers to exercise is vital if we are going to continue to market exercise as a method of health promotion / disease prevention.

Reducing these barriers to exercise may explain why the Curves chain of fitness centers has been such a huge success. While Curves may not be the most sophisticated health club chain, they do present an atmosphere that is “female-friendly”.

In a similar vein, “senior-friendly” health clubs are beginning to pop up around the country.

Who knows, in a few years, niche fitness clubs may be as popular as fast food restaurants.

But then again, maybe if we had fewer fast food restaurants, we wouldn’t need the niche fitness clubs.

Oh well…

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