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This study examined differences in motives for and in barriers to physical activity participation in middle-aged Chinese women between activity levels and motivational styles.Cross-sectional study.Chinese middle-aged women (N=360) completed a battery of questionnaires about level of physical activity, reasons for and barriers to physical activity participation, and general motivational style.Eighty percent of the women were classified into precontemplation, contemplation, or preparation stages of physical activity, indicating the majority were not physically active enough to achieve health benefits. Fitness–health, enjoyment–interest and appearance were found to be the most important motives for, and lack of time, resources or skills and family or friend support the most important barriers to participation. Women in the later stages of physical activity behavior were more likely to exhibit greater motive strengths and to perceive fewer barriers compared to those in the earlier stages. Among a number of motivational style results, women in the later stages were found to be more arousal-seeking and to rate challenge of activities and improving competence higher than women in the earlier stages. Also, having a mastery motivational style and a higher income were strong predictors of physical activity participation in these middle-aged women.The findings of the present study extend the literature by providing insights into how women's motives for and barriers to physical activity participation are related to their activity levels and motivational styles. The implications of the results for physical activity promotion and provision with regard to benefiting women's health are discussed.