The barrier-belief approach in the counseling of physical activity

Adrie Bouma, C. Paul van Wilgen, Arie Dijkstra

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Objective: To understand inactivity and relapse from PA, and to develop theory-based behaviour change strategies to stimulate and support maintenance of PA.

Methods: We conducted a literature search to explore barriers to PA. Social cognitive theories and empirical evidence were evaluated and guided the process developing a theoretical framework and counselling strategies.

Results: A theoretical framework is presented to understand why people do not engage in PA and often relapse once they started PA. A distinction is made between three related types of BBs. In PA counselling these three beliefs are addressed using four different BB behaviour change strategies.

Conclusion: BB counselling aims to develop an individual pattern of PA for the long term that is adapted to the (often limited) motivation of the client, thereby preventing the occurrence of BBs. The client will learn to cope with factors that may inhibit PA in the future.

Practice implications: The BBs approach composes a way of counselling around the central construct of barrier-beliefs to stimulate engagement in PA independently, in the long term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • barriers
  • beliefs
  • physical activity
  • behavioral change
  • relapse
  • maintenance
  • counseling
  • lifestyle
  • social cognitive
  • strategies


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