An exploration of the meaning of physical activity for working adults and their reluctance to reduce sedentary behaviour

Kiara Lewis, Nicola Eccles

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


The relationship between the working environment and health has been well documented and “choice architecture” and “nudge theory” are gaining traction in public health, yet there is an absence of evidence of how they work and how nudges are perceived by the public (Hollands et al., 2013, BMC Public Health, 13, 1218). This qualitative study aimed to explore the impact of a series of visual prompts to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase activity. With institutional ethics approval subliminal prompts were placed on outdoor media sites, as well as internally in three community work based settings within Kirklees. The initial prompts raised awareness around being sedentary “all day”. These were followed by prompts to be more active four weeks later. Invitations were sent to all employees within the work sites and from this 23 participants (m = 6, f = 17) were recruited and participated twice in focus groups (one pre intervention and one post intervention). The anonymised data, from a total of six focus groups, was analysed using Template Analysis (King and Horrocks, 2012, Interviews in qualitative research. London: Sage). From the initial focus groups 3 main themes were developed. 1. Participants perceive their daily lives as stressful and consider activity as adding to that stress 2. Being active is seen to require a great deal of effort and willpower 3. Strong cultural expectations result in people feeling unable to leave their desk. The prompts challenged them to rethink their sedentary behaviour and led to small lifestyle changes and a desire for more help to be active. The data also demonstrated the need to alter the discourse around physical activity in order to appeal to sedentary adults. The research provides a rich source of information on the daily constraints for middle aged, working adults and the difficulties and reluctance they have towards being active. More needs to be done to promote the benefits of an active working day and physical activity as a means to relaxation, rather than another chore at the end of the day.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue numberSup 1
Early online date14 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Conference 2017 - East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Nov 201729 Nov 2017 (Link to Conference Information)


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