From Their Perspective: A Qualitative Examination of Physical Activity and Sport Programming for Working Mothers Academic Article uri icon


  • Research has long demonstrated the benefits of participation in sport, exercise, and physical activity, which include lower mortality and morbidity (National Heart Foundation of Australia, 2001; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). Still, research demonstrates that 60-80% of adults are not active at a level sufficient to derive health benefits (Armstrong, Bauman, & Davies, 2000; Bowles, Morrow, Leonard, Hawkins, & Couzelis, 2002; Pate et al., 1995), and working mothers may face particular challenges in pursuing physical activity and sport (Jackson & Henderson, 1995). Utilizing the exercise psychology and women's leisure literatures, this study examines not only the barriers or constraints to participation, but also the ways that working mothers negotiate these barriers and, very practically, the ways that sport managers can better structure program offerings to increase access for this group (Bauman, Smith, Maibach, & Reger-Nash, 2006; Jackson & Henderson, 1995; Shaw, 1994). Forty-four working mothers from a university in the Southwestern United States participated in focus group inquiry regarding their physical activity and sport participation, barriers to participation, ways that they negotiated those barriers, and recommendations for change. Results indicated that rigid scheduling, guilt, and narrow programming constrained activity participation, and those constraints varied by marital status and social class. Negotiations included reframing entitlement to participation, garnering social support, and combating rigid work structures. Specific programming recommendations for sport managers as well as implications for social change are also discussed. 2009 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand.

published proceedings

  • Sport Management Review

author list (cited authors)

  • Dixon, M. A.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Dixon, Marlene A

publication date

  • January 2009