Barriers to involvement in physical activities of persons with mental illness

Ron Shor*, Anat Shalev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Participating in physical activities could be essential for reducing the multiple risk factors for health problems that persons with severe mental illness (SMI) may suffer. However, people with SMI are significantly less active than the general population. To develop knowledge about factors related to the perceived barriers hindering this population's participation in physical activities and the benefits this participation would have, a study was conducted in Israel with 86 people with mental illness living in community mental health facilities prior to their participation in a health promotion program. A mixed method was implemented and included: a scale designed to measure participants' perceptions of the barriers to and benefits of involvement in physical activities; instruments focusing on bio-psycho-social factors that may affect the level of barriers experienced; and personal interviews. The findings revealed high ranking for accessibility barriers hindering the participation in physical activities. Bio-psycho-social factors stemming from the participants' mental health, such as level of depression, were correlated with higher ranking of accessibility barriers. Bio-psycho-social factors reflecting positive mental health and health, such as positive appraisal of body weight, were correlated with lower ranking of accessibility barriers. Other barriers may include organizational and broader systemic barriers in the mental health facilities where the participants reside. These findings illuminate the need to consider the unique challenges that persons with mental illness may face in any attempt to advance their involvement in physical activity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author.


  • barriers
  • health promotion
  • mental illness
  • physical activity


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