Perceptions of physical activity, activity preferences and health among a group of adult women in urban Ghana: A pilot study

  • YA Tuakli-Wosornu
  • M Rowan
  • J Gittelsohn
Keywords: physical activity, Ghana, women, facilitators, barriers.


Background: Obesity and other lifestyle-related chronic diseases impact urban West African women at high rates. Physical activity (PA) can improve these health outcomes, but there is little published data on the associated psychosocial predictors in this population.
Objectives: We aimed to explore preliminary associations between  perceptions of PA, PA behaviours, and health in a group of Ghanaian women.
Methods: Non-experimental, cross-sectional case study using a mixed-methods approach. Focus groups and in-depth interviews with a convenience sample of Ghanaian women, fitness trainers and clergy  comprised the qualitative phase. A self-administered survey (n=218) comprised the quantitative phase. Constant comparative method, logistic regression, component and factor analyses were used for analysis.
Results: Women viewed activities of daily living like housework as PA; rarely utilized organized fitness facilities; understood "rigorous" PA as professional male athleticism; and took interest in socialized PA. Mean
age was 49.4 years. Mean body mass index was 30.3 kg/m2. The majority (75.9 %) reported exercising sometimes or often. Half (48.4%) reported a lifestylerelated chronic disease. "Weight loss," "health concerns" and "increased energy," were top motivators for PA. "Can't find the time," "work/family obligations," and "don't have a facility" were top barriers. Presence of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and prior weight
loss correlated with the slimming motivator (adjusted odds ratio 2.59, p=0.008; AOR 3.56, p=0.012; AOR 3.36, p=<0.001).
Conclusion: Among those surveyed, PA motivators and barriers were associated with demographics, PA exposure, and health status. Further research on unique PA perceptions, behaviours and health could catalyze
health promotion through culturally relevant fitness programming.

Keywords: physical activity, Ghana, women, facilitators, barriers.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0016-9560