Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Health

Committee Chair

Kenneth Ward

Committee Member

Brook E. Harmon

Committee Member

Latrice C. Pichon

Committee Member

Jonathan Lewis


Engaging in the recommended amounts of physical activity (i.e., 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity/week) has many health benefits; yet only half of the United States (US) adult population meets this recommendation. Low physical activity engagement may be partially attributable to individual, social, and environmental barriers and factors. Barriers to meeting physical activity recommendations have been found among Christian clergy (i.e., clergy). In addition, clergy report a high prevalence of obesity, some non-communicable diseases and mental health problems. However, only a few studies have examined physical activity among clergy using a theory- guided approach, which limits our understanding of perceptions and the strategies used to mitigate existing barriers to being active. This study was guided by the Transtheoretical Model to better understand the perceptions of physical activity barriers, benefits, and motivators among clergy at different levels of physical activity readiness to change. In-depth interviews were conducted with currently employed clergy (N = 27) who were categorized into different stages of change based on their responses to the Physical Activity Stages of Change Questionnaire. Interpretation of findings were based upon informed grounded methodology. The major themes that emerged from the data were: 1) Clergy’s relationship with physical activity (e.g., perception, types of physical activity); 2) Benefits received from engaging in physical activity; 3) Physical activity specific cons or barriers impeding physical activity engagement; 4) Individualized strategies clergy use to mitigate existing physical activity barriers; 5) Motivators influencing clergy’s willingness to be physically active; and 6) Facilitators that enable clergy to engage in physical activity. Findings from this study showed a shift in the relative balance of barriers of and facilitators to physical activity, particularly in the later stages of change. Moreover, study findings have important implications for future health promotion efforts among clergy, as it is evident that access (e.g., geographic location), policy-level changes (e.g., denominationally) and support (e.g., environment, family, church) may help clergy initiate or maintain their physical activity behavior. These findings also suggest the need for future clergy health behavior change to use theoretical frameworks that account for the individual, social, and environmental factors influencing physical activity engagement.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access