DOI: 10.3390/jfmk8030118 ISSN:

A Mixed-Methods Study of Women’s Empowerment through Physical Activities: Relationships with Self-Efficacy and Physical Activity Levels

Aspen E. Streetman, Madiera M. Lister, Averie Brown, Halle N. Brin, Katie M. Heinrich
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Histology
  • Rheumatology
  • Anatomy

Participation in empowering physical activities may increase self-efficacy and facilitate long-term engagement. This explanatory sequential mixed-methods study examined the relationship between physical activity empowerment, exercise self-efficacy, and engagement. Midwestern women (N = 147) aged 18–65, 90% white, completed an online cross-sectional survey that captured exercise engagement and self-efficacy for exercise. Participants entered up to five types of physical activities and ranked them from most to least empowering. Physical activities were coded by training type for statistical comparisons using independent t-tests. After survey completion, seventeen women completed a 30 min, 8-question semi-structured interview. Women ranked resistance training as the most empowering physical activity type (38%), followed by running (14%). Total and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and self-efficacy for exercise scores did not vary between women empowered by cardiorespiratory or resistance training (i.e., total physical activity t(136) = 1.13, p = 0.11; moderate-to-vigorous physical activity t(136) = 2.42, p = 0.06; and self-efficacy for exercise t(136) = 0.66, p = 0.07). Themes identified from the interviews included: (1) women’s physical activity participation barriers are gender-centric, (2) physical activity participation benefits extend beyond physical health, (3) some exercise types are more empowering than others, and (4) empowerment and enjoyment are closely related. Exploring empowerment in exercise may reveal mechanisms to facilitate exercise self-efficacy and engagement in physical activity.

More from our Archive