Population considerations:

  • Lack of time. Women often report that commitments (e.g., work, children, care giving) keep them from having the time to be physically active (Sherwood, 2000).
  • Lack of motivation. Women may feel unmotivated to be physically active (Hoebeke, 2006).
  • Work activities. Some individuals who are working in jobs that entail a great deal of physical labor (e.g., often lifting and strength related) may not see the importance of building in additional time for physical activity that complements their job related physical activity with cardiovascular and stretching activity (Fletcher, 2008).
  • Lack of energy. Women often report that they do not have the energy to be physically active (Hoebeke, 2006). They may also believe that being physically active will cause them to have more fatigue (Hoebeke, 2006).
  • Safety. Many women feel the neighborhood in which they live is not safe enough for walking or jogging (Pinto, 2006).

  Strategies to address these considerations:

  • Emphasize beneficial aspects. Women are more likely to find physical activity beneficial for socializing and stress relief (Sherwood, 2000). Consider offering group exercise in encourage the social aspects of physical activity (Sherwood 2000). It is also important to emphasize the importance of physical and mental health benefits over weight-related outcomes (Wilcox, 2002).
  • Create workplace programs. It may be useful to work with worksites to help to inform workers about the importance of different types of physical activity and to create policies that enable workers to build physical activity into their schedules. Working moms may have better success if they are physically active during lunch or around the workday when childcare is already in place. Strategies to encourage employers to implement organizational policies supporting flextime, on-site facilities or other ways to build physical activity into the workday may be useful for this population (Sherwood, 2000).
  • Address family needs. Flexible strategies should be developed to accommodate women’s care-giving and work roles (Hoebeke, 2006). Provide childcare arrangements and promoting family-oriented physical activities. Strategies might include home-based activities such as yoga and fitness videos, and using indoor equipment such as bicycles and treadmills.
  • Build activity into daily life. Identifying different ways to build physical activity into everyday activities (e.g., walking to the bank, taking public transit to work) is a good way to improve fitness in women who struggle to take time out of their busy day for physical activity (Pinto, 1996).
  • Address safety concerns. Women may have a variety of safety concerns, and policies should be developed to address those (Pinto, 2006).  It is possible that equipment available is not in good working order and safe for use. This might suggest repairing equipment or purchasing new equipment. It may also be that there are concerns about interpersonal safety.  To address these concerns you might want to consider creating buddy systems so people do not have to walk alone, working with local police, or creating neighborhood watch programs.

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