According to the WHO, healthy adults aged 18–64 should perform at least 150 min of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (PA), or at least 75 min of vigorous-intensity PA, throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity. These recommendations should be promoted and involved in primary health care (PHC) staff daily practice. Tailoring the education message depends on peoples’ perspective on PA, but in Poland there is no research on the subject.

The aim of the study was to explore and compare the perception of lay people (LP) and health professionals (HP) of PA to find similarities and differences in their perspective – as this may have an impact on PHC-based education on PA (favourable or unfavourable).

Material and methods:
Six mini FGIs were carried out. Research sample consisted of 16 LP from urban settings and 10 HP (doctors, nurses).

LP and HP appreciated PA as important and considerably controllable health determinant. LP attributed the main gains of PA to psycho-social benefits, and HP strictly to diseases risk reduction. Both groups had difficulties in defining PA and doubts abounded about PA and exercise. Optimal dose (volume) of PA was generally unclear and the WHO recommendation were unknown. HP seemed to be more eager than LP to appreciate simple forms of PA, e.g. walking. Barriers to PA perceived by LP were described in terms of ‘real life’ factors (sportswear, access, job), and HP mostly by cognition (knowing, judging) and social status. LP preferred positive, rewarding motivation for PA, but HP one that was negative and fear-based.

Referring to activity, LP and HP were like travellers in parallel universes. This created challenges in PHC-based education. Some suggestion for PA education were given. More qualitative and quantitative research are needed.

PA – Physical Activity, WHO – World Health Organization, PHC – primary health care, NCDs – non-communicable diseases, DINKS – double income, no kids, FGIs – focus group interviews, NIPH-NIH – National Institute of Public Health-National Institute of Hygiene, GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation, IEC – information, education, communication, IDI – In- Depth Interview
We would like to thank Romeu Mendes from University of Porto and Stephen Whiting from WHO Regional Office for Europe, who made constructive comments and recommendations which help us to improve the readability and quality of the paper.
The study was conducted according to the contract between NIPH-NIH and WHO nr. 2019/954310-3 202403586-3, under the Biennial Collaborative Agreement between WHO EURO and Polish Ministry of Health 2018-19 - priority on NCDs: Increased access to interventions to prevent and manage non-communicable diseases and their risk factors. Support in developing interventions tackling NCDs in primary health care.
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