Perceived barriers and facilitators to workplace exercise participation Academic Article uri icon


  • Purpose Workplace exercise programmes have been shown to increase employee participation in physical activities and improve health and fitness in the short-term. However, the limited breadth of employee engagement across organisations combined with declining exercise adherence within individual studies indicates a need for better-informed programmes. The purpose of this paper is to investigate relationships between employee moderate-vigorous physical activity (exercise) participation and their perceived barriers and facilitators to engagement in onsite exercise, to inform the design and implementation of future workplace exercise interventions. Design/methodology/approach An online survey identified employee demographics, exercise (International Physical Activity Questionnaire), perceived barriers (Corporate Exercise Barriers Scale) and facilitators to exercise at an Australian university. Findings Of the 252 full-time employees who responded, most reported meeting (43.7 per cent) or exceeding (42.9 per cent) exercise guidelines over the previous week. A lack of time or reduced motivation (p<0.001), exercise attitude (p<0.05), internal (p<0.01) and external (p<0.01) barriers towards workplace exercise participation were all associated with failure to attain government-recommended volumes of weekly exercise. Personal training (particularly for insufficiently active employees) and group exercise classes were identified as potential exercise facilitators. Walking, gym (fitness centre), swimming and cycling were identified as the preferred modes of exercise training. Practical implications Employees not meeting recommended volumes of exercise might require additional support such as individualised gym and cycling programmes with personal supervision to overcome reported exercise barriers to improve exercise participation, health and fitness. Originality/value This study identifies specific barriers and facilitators to workplace exercise participation perceived by university employees. These findings can be used to inform the design and implementation of workplace exercise programmes aiming to achieve wider workplace engagement and greater exercise adherence, particularly of less active employees.

publication date

  • 2018