Barriers to physical activity for father’s living in marginalising conditions
Carroch, F.E., Oliffe, J.L., Montaner, G.G., & Webb, J.M.
Physical activity can be a conduit for improving men’s social connectedness as well as physical gains for well-being. However, marginalised men, and fathers in particular, can be challenged to engage in leisure time physical activity. This qualitative study reports how fathers, who experience complex and significant social and health inequities, conceptualise and experience barriers to physical activity. Drawing from focus groups with 17 fathers, and semi-structured interviews with seven service providers about their perspectives on men’s physical activity in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), a highly marginalised neighbourhood. A masculinities framework was used to describe and contextualise physical activity in fathers’ lives. Three themes were inductively derived through the analyses: (1) ‘they’re busy surviving’ a finding referencing the work and limits invoked by poverty wherein survival was triaged ahead of leisure time physical activity; (2) ‘there is no activity centre’ chronicling the lack of physical activity spaces, programmes and resources available to fathers; and (3) ‘lifestyle affects our capability to exercise’ a theme detailing how social isolation amplified by factors including housing and opioid crises, and being a father in a resource poor setting imposed significant barriers to physical activity. The findings support reconceptualising physical activity programmes with men who are living in marginalising conditions to address behavioural and structural health inequities in tailoring father-centred programmes and resources.