Is work keeping us from acting healthy? How workplace barriers and facilitators impact nutrition and exercise behaviors

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify common barriers and facilitators to healthy nutrition and exercise behaviors in the workplace and examine their relationships to those actual daily health behaviors. We utilized a concurrent embedded mixed methods approach to collect data from 93 participants over the span of four days. Participants reported 2.80 nutrition and 3.28 exercise barriers on average over the 4 days, while reporting 2.93 nutrition and 1.98 exercise facilitators in the same timeframe. Results indicated that workload and temptations around the office prevented nutritious eating; exercise behaviors were frequently hindered by workload. The most commonly mentioned eating facilitator was proper planning, while having time to exercise facilitated physical activity. Furthermore, the number of barriers reported negatively related to their respective health behaviors (i.e., more nutrition barriers translated to poorer nutrition habits) and facilitators were positively related to them, both overall and more so on the specific day they were reported. The implications of these finding show the importance of barriers/facilitators in the workplace and aid in the creation of more targeted health promotion that could increase positive employee health behaviors by eliminating common barriers and enhancing facilitators.

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