The barriers and facilitators to physical activity participation in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Nikki Milne, Michael Simmonds

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearchpeer-review


Questions: Do women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have unique barriers and/or facilitators to physical activity (PA)? Design: Prospective quantitative and qualitative survey. Participants: Women with diagnosed PCOS (n = 133; age: 32 ± 6yr) and healthy controls (n = 71; age: 34 ± 11yr) volunteered to participate. Outcome measures: The frequencies of the most commonly reported barriers and facilitators to PA were determined. Results: Personal factors (e.g., lack of motivation/time; work/family commitments) contributing to reduced PA participation were remarkably similar for both groups. Women with PCOS were more likely to report body structure/function factors (e.g., self-esteem/body image; comorbidities; depression; PCOS symptoms) as significant barriers to PA, whereas healthy women were more likely to report environmental factors (e.g., weather; cost; accessibility). Healthy women (52%) were twice as likely to participate in PA for Pleasure/enjoyment, when compared with PCOS (26%); however, both groups reported weight management as the most important facilitator for PA (>64%). Women with PCOS reported that health benefits (48%) more important than physical fitness (32%) as a facilitator for participating in PA, and improved fertility was only a primary consideration for women with PCOS (14%). Conclusion: PCOS introduces a range of disease-specific barriers to PA that may be related to altered physical and psychosocial function. Consequently, women with PCOS report unique facilitators for PA participation. These novel findings should provide a starting point for individualised exercise prescription for women with PCOS. Key Practice Points: • Women with PCOS are more likely to report health-related barriers to participating in PA, which may lead to a “viscous cycle” of declined health • Women with PCOS prioritised health benefits over physical fitness: these frequencies were comparatively lower than controls. Holistic lifestyle education is required for women with PCOS
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 17 Oct 2013
EventAustralian Physiotherapy Association Conference 2013: New Moves - Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 17 Oct 201320 Oct 2013 (Book of Abstracts) (Conference Program)


ConferenceAustralian Physiotherapy Association Conference 2013
Abbreviated titleAPA Conference 2013
Internet address


Cite this

Milne, N., & Simmonds, M. (2013). The barriers and facilitators to physical activity participation in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Abstract from Australian Physiotherapy Association Conference 2013, Melbourne, Australia.