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Age-Associated Perceptions of Physical Activity Facilitators and Barriers Among Women in Rural Southernmost Illinois
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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Introduction Women living in rural areas in the United States experience disproportionately high rates of diseases such as obesity and heart disease and are less likely than women living in urban areas to meet daily physical activity (PA) recommendations. The purpose of our research was to understand age-specific perceptions of barriers and facilitators to rural women engaging in PA and to identify strategies to promote PA among these women. Methods As part of a community health assessment to learn about women’s health issues, 110 adult women participated in 14 focus groups. The women were divided into 4 age groups, and focus groups were held in various community settings. We used qualitative analysis methods to explore themes in the women’s narratives, including themes related to PA knowledge, PA behavior, and access to PA facilities. Results Participants described multiple and often conflicting individual, social, and environmental barriers and facilitators to PA. Several barriers and facilitators were shared across age groups (eg, competing priorities and inadequate knowledge about PA’s role in disease prevention and disease management). Other barriers (eg, illness and injury) and facilitators (eg, PA as a social opportunity) differed by age group. Conclusion Rural women in southernmost Illinois have often contradictory barriers and facilitators to PA, and those barriers and facilitators are different at different points in a woman’s life. Our findings suggest the need for multilevel, multisector approaches to promote PA. Additionally, this research supports the need for tailored PA promotion programs for rural women to address the barriers these women face across their lifespan.
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