Obesity is an increasing public health concern in the U.S. and a contributor to chronic illness, with trends revealing a rise in adult obesity and chronic disease rates among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, including those in rural communities. A mixed-methods approach was used to examine perspectives on perceived physical activity barriers, resources, and level of community support. Researchers utilized the socioecological model to examine the multiple domains that support physical activity in rural Appalachia. The present study focuses on baseline data, including a cohort survey to assess physical activity, health status, and barriers to physical activity, and five focus groups with elected community leaders, community residents, members, and key stakeholders to assess perspectives on physical activity barriers and resources within the county. The cohort survey sample (N = 152) reported a median of 6 barriers (range 0–13) to participating in at least 30 min of physical activity daily. The qualitative analysis yielded three overarching themes related to physical activity participation: lack of motivation, physical environment, and cultural barriers. This mixed-methods study revealed the challenges and perceptions among rural residents across the socioecological model when assessing physical inactivity. Findings can be used to tailor future interventions focused on expanding social support, designing infrastructure, and creating policies that promote physical activity.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, v. 18, issue 14, 7646.

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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Funding Information

This study was funded by Cooperative Agreement 1NU58DP0065690100 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO).

Related Content

The following are available online at https://www.mdpi.com/article/10.3390/ijerph18147646/s1, Cohort Study Survey and Focus Group Moderator Guide. The materials are also available for download as the additional file listed at the end of this record.

ijerph-18-07646-s001.zip (267 kB)
Supplementary file