Being with others during physical activity: experiences of well-being among adults with severe obesity

Bente Skovsby Toft, Kathleen T Galvin, Claus Vinther Nielsen, Lisbeth Urenfeldt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: The experience of physical activity is influenced by social relations and gendered roles. Group-based lifestyle interventions are considered effective in promoting physical activity, yet the experiences of being active with others are unknown among individuals with severe obesity. Purpose: To explore how individuals with severe obesity experience being with others during physical activity. Methods: A qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological study of repeated single-gender focus group interviews was conducted with adults living with severe obesity during group-based lifestyle intervention. Results: Three themes were developed: 1) ‘Enjoying safety, kinship and belonging among peers’; 2) ‘Feeling like a failure is shameful: A sense of aversion’; and 3) ‘Striving to feel at home in physical activity: Needing distance from others.’ The themes were drawn into an overall meaning ‘Achieving wellbeing may always be a challenge: not feeling at home in the group or in body.’ Conclusion: Intersubjective and spatial dimensions of experiences are central and influence how individuals with severe obesity can feel wellbeing and ‘at home’ in physical activity. Physiotherapists should be aware of the individuals’ vulnerability regarding feelings of failure, aversion, and shame as well as awareness of gendered norms and roles.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020


    • Physical activity
    • obesity
    • lifeworld
    • gender
    • qualitative


    Dive into the research topics of 'Being with others during physical activity: experiences of well-being among adults with severe obesity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this