Physical activity, fitness level and health problems of healthcare workers in South Africa: The transtheoretical model as an explanatory framework

  • L Skaal
  • S Pengpid
Keywords: Obesity, health problems, healthcare workers, self-perception, hospital, transtheoretical model

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the level of physical activity of healthcare workers using the transtheoretical model (TTM) as a framework and to identify barriers to exercise. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 200 randomly selected hospital staff members in South Africa. The weight and height of the participants were measured, and fitness level was measured using a step test. The results were analysed using SPSS version 17.0. Approximately 10% of the male and 65% of the female hospital staff were found to be obese or severely obese. Furthermore, 55% of the older staff members were obese compared with 32% of the younger staff members and 44% of the medical staff met the criteria for obesity, which was somewhat less than the 50% of the non-medical staff who were obese. With approximately 25% of the hospital staff reporting that they engaged in regular exercise and/or physical activity, the majority of the staff were found not to engage in regular physical activity. Of those who claimed to engage in regular exercise, the majority were male members of the medical staff who were under 40 years of age and of normal weight. The barriers to exercise ranged from a lack of motivation (>80%), no support at work (>80%), lack of family support (> 50%), and lack of facilities at home (45%). The majority of the staff were at the pre-action stages for exercise and displayed low levels of physical fitness, irrespective of their job category. There is, therefore, a need for worksite intervention to improve the level of physical activity of healthcare workers in South Africa. The use of the TTM to identify the appropriate stage of physical activity for healthcare workers will enable health promoters to design programmes specific to the individual‘s stage of exercise readiness.

Keywords: Obesity, health problems, healthcare workers, self-perception, hospital, transtheoretical model.

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