Establishing a successful physical activity program to recruit and retain women
Increasingly, health organisations and governing bodies in developed countries are paying serious attention to the problem of adult inactivity. Many of the programs designed to increase levels of activity, particularly amongst target populations, such as women, have not been systematically assessed for their effectiveness in recruiting women and helping them maintain activity levels. The purpose of this study was to determine what attracted and sustained women to participate in physical activity programs. Responses from a survey to sport and recreation program providers identified 64 successful programs in the state of Victoria, Australia. Eight of these programs were purposively selected for case study analysis. Data was collected from a focus group with women participants from each of these eight programs. Six core themes emerged from inductive content analysis of the focus groups. The most frequent participant responses related to the social aspects of the exercise environment. Women in the focus groups valued instructor professionalism and instructors' technical knowledge, however, it was their awareness and sensitivity that participants appreciated most. This exploratory study is important because it reflects the voices of women talking about what made physical activity programs successful for them. The study raises critical questions that should be examined systematically through large-scale survey research and field-based intervention studies, which in turn should stimulate program development to encourage women in physical activity.
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Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
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