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Factors Influencing Qatari Women's Physical Activity



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Although physical activity (PA) has numerous health benefits, data show that 60% of Qatari women do not engage in regular PA. To successfully modify PA behavior among Qatari women, factors that influence this behavior must be understood. This study aims to understand the factors that influence Qatari women aged 18-44 to be physically active and to identify possible interventions for enhancing PA behavior among Qatari women. This ethnographic study is framed by Islamic Feminism and guided by the Socio-ecological Model. It involved three data collection methods: interview, photovoice, and participant observation. Eight Qatari women aged 18-44 years were involved in interviews and/or photovoice activities, and participant observation was carried out in public places. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes and subthemes across all transcripts, photographs, and fieldnotes. Findings are organized under four themes: beliefs and faith, culture, the physical environment, and wealth and luxury. Four subthemes emerged within the beliefs and faith theme: positive perceptions of PA with some misconceptions, perceived low motivation for PA, Islam supports for women’s PA within specific guidelines, and Islamic activities create a domain for PA. The results of this study suggest that PA is informed by gender ideologies that structure the framework of men and women to engage in PA behavior. Six main culture-related issues that impact Qatari women’s PA are identified in this study: social roles and caregiving responsibilities, the need for approval to engage in outdoor PA, the conservative dress codes and behavioral expectations, the negative perception towards women walking in streets and neighborhoods, the restricted time rules for PA, and the fact that PA is not considered as leisure and social activity. The results of this study show that the natural environment in Qatar creates a challenge for the adoption of PA behavior and the built environment supports PA but only in specific locations. This study documents the effect of wealth, luxury, socio-economic transition, and the rapid urbanization on PA behavior. The opportunities, constraints, and needs identified in this study provide important insights about changes that could be undertaken to increase the PA of Qatari women.



Physical Activity. women, Qatar, Arab, Muslim



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Community Health and Epidemiology


Community and Population Health Science


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