Barriers and Motivations to Participation in Physical Activity and Exercise: The Case of an Immigrant Chinese Woman in the United States



Li, Xiaoli

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Empirical evidence has demonstrated that lack of physical activity causes health problems (Muntner et al., 2005; Bauman et al., 2012; Manaf, 2013). Socioeconomic factors (e.g., age, sex, time, education) may impact participation in physical activity and exercise (Riordan, 1986; Chen, 1998; Sternfeld, Ainsworth, & Qusenberry, 1999; Muntner et al., 2005; Sit, Kerr, & Wong, 2008; Bauman et al., 2012). Further, cultural and social factors may play a role in participation (Hoeman, Ku, & Ohl, 1996; Fancott, 2001; Yu, Liaw, & Barnd, 2004; Sit, Kerr & Wong, 2008; Yan & Cardinal, 2013). Yan and Cardinal (2013) found that traditional Chinese health beliefs are vastly different from western society, which may have an effect on Chinese women’ participation in physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine the barriers and motivations to participation in physical activity and exercise among immigrant Chinese women in the United States. A qualitative approach was used to collect detailed explanatory data from a single research participant’s experiences. Findings from open ended responses suggest a growing awareness of the importance of sport and physical fitness; the modification of long-held cultural health, physical activity, and exercise perceptions; and time as a key constraint to activity. The implication of the study findings for helping Chinese immigrant women engage in physical activity and exercise is addressed.



Physical activity and exercise, Barriers, Health, Immigrant Chinese women, Motivations, Culture