`Stepping away from the computer and into the sweats’: The construction and negotiation of exercise identities in a Norwegian public company
Hilde Rossing, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway
Theme: Exercise and health behaviors
Program ID: LEC-16B
Presentation: October 5, 2013 2:45 pm - 3:45 pm
While research has found that a developed exercise identity enables individuals to view exercise participation as self- reinforcing, the social barriers to such participation and how they are dealt with have been largely neglected. The subsequent aim of this study was to explore some of the social complexities at play in terms of how company employees construct and manage their exercise identities within a work place setting. A case-study method was used to address the research issue over a nine-month period. The case to be studied included a sample of 72 employees from a Norwegian public company who participated in an on-going work-based exercise programme (‘Exercise for better health’). The principal means of data collection comprised participant observation, individual interviews and exercise logbooks. The data were subject to inductive analysis. The primary barriers to exercise participation included high levels of social comparison in a competitive working context (particularly in relation to ‘competent colleagues’), and feelings of guilt associated with partaking in ‘recreational’ activities during work hours. Strategies engaged with to overcome and negotiate such obstacles included justifying participation through a health-related discourse, and constructing a more distinct ‘worker-exerciser’ identity.