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Open Access Dissertation

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First Advisor

Feleta Wilson


The purpose of this descriptive correlational study was to examine relationships among selected variables and concepts within the Health Promotion Model (perceived benefits, perceived barriers to exercise, self-efficacy, commitment to plan of action) in non-obese and obese women with a focus on the behavioral outcome of physical activity (leisure & lifestyle). A group of 137 women, aged 18-50 participated in this study. BMI was found to be positively correlated to an individual's perceived barriers to action. Findings did not support the hypothesis that as BMI increases perceived benefits, self-efficacy, commitment to a plan of action and physical activity levels would decrease. Commitment to a plan of action was found to be a significant predictor of both types of physical activity. Commitment to a plan of action predicted 58% of the variance in leisure physical activity (exercise) and 6% of lifestyle physical activity.

Non-obese women had lower levels of self-efficacy related to exercise in areas surrounding time commitments and interruptions in everyday life compared to the obese participants. The obese participants significantly reported lower levels of self-efficacy related to exercise in areas of depression, anxiety and recovering from illness and disability than the non-obese women. Physical benefits of exercise (improved muscle tone and cardiovascular system) were seen as more of a benefit to the non-obese group then the obese group. Obese women tended to see the social aspects of physical activity to be a benefit.

The barrier "too fat to exercise", "health not good enough" and "having an injury or disability", and "Pain stops me from exercising" were also examined. Non-obese women had higher levels of disagreement to the statement "too fat to exercise" and "health not good enough" over the obese women. Obese women reported "having an injury or disability" that stops me from exercising as more of a barrier to physical activity than non-obese women. Pain was not found to be a significant barrier to exercise for either group.

This study provides foundational knowledge into the similarities and differences of non-obese and obese women regarding the health promoting behavior of physical activity. The findings of this study assist in providing additional knowledge and significance regarding the concept of commitment to a plan of action in the Health Promotion Model. The findings related to psychosocial barriers to exercise for obese individuals suggests the need for a thorough assessment of depressive symptoms in overweight and obese women. Overweight and obese women may need specific education and counseling on how to deal with depression and the effects it could have on their overall health including physical activity.

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