The Role of Perceived Personal Barriers to Engagement in Leisure-Time Physical Activity

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We sought to identify perceived personal barriers to physical activity and examine the potential association between these barriers and sociodemographic and behavioral variables, including participation in leisure-time physical activity.


In 2003, we conducted a population-based study in Pelotas, Brazil. Participants aged 20 years and older were selected according to a multistage sampling strategy. Participants responded to both the International Physical Activity Questionnaire and a standardized questionnaire investigating 8 perceived personal barriers.


Only 26.8% of participants achieved 150 minutes per week of leisure-time physical activity. Lack of money (40.3%) and feeling too tired (38.1%) were the most frequently reported barriers to physical activity. A dose-response group association was observed between number of perceived barriers and level of physical activity. In the multivariable analysis, lack of time, dislike of exercising, feeling too tired, lack of company, and lack of money were associated with physical inactivity.


Detection of the determinants of physical inactivity, a growing epidemic, should be a public health priority. Brazil is a middle-income (developing) country. The prevalence of most of the personal barriers studied was higher in this population than those levels observed in high-income (developed) countries. Perceiving 5 of the 8 barriers investigated was inversely associated with leisure-time physical activity level.

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