Transforming Motivation for Exercise in a Safe and Kind Environment

Abstract – Transforming Motivation for Exercise in a Safe and Kind Environment – A Qualitative Study of Experiences among Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes

Exercise is a cornerstone in diabetes care; however, adherence is low and sustaining physical activity remains a challenge. Patient-centred diabetes self-management education and support are recommended; however, sparse literature exists on how to design exercise interventions that improve self-management in individuals with complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). We aimed to gain insights into needs, barriers, and motivation based on experiences with exercise participation among individuals with T2D and complications to adjust and develop new types of tailored, supervised exercise classes in specialised care at three hospitals in Denmark. In keeping with a constructivist research paradigm, a qualitative hermeneutic approach using focus group interviews was applied to explore perspectives among different participants in terms of disease severity. Seven interviews with 30 participants (aged 49–88) representing seven different exercise classes, were conducted over three years. Reflective thematic analysis was used. Four themes were generated: People like us, Getting started with exercise, Game changers, and Moving forward. An overarching theme ‘The transformation of motivation when exercising in a safe and kind environment’ links the themes together, resembling the participants’ development of physical literacy encompassing motivation, confidence, physical competence as well as an ability to value physical activity. Supportive patient-centred exercise classes promoted a transformation of motivation grounded in the development of physical literacy among participants in specialised diabetes care. However, participants were concerned with continuing to exercise on their own after the intervention, as they experienced a lack of continuous, supervised exercise opportunities in local communities.