Being active when living within a large body: experiences during lifestyle intervention

Bente Skovsby Toft, Kathleen Galvin, Claus Vinther Nielsen & Lisbeth Uhrenfeldt


In-depth understanding of the experiences of both well-being and suffering in relation to being severely obese and becoming active through lifestyle intervention is lacking.


to explore and describe adults’ existential experiences of being active, when living within a large body—before and during a lifestyle intervention.


A longitudinal design of repeated individual interviews with 16 adults with BMI =40, based on hermeneutic phenomenology, existential philosophy and a theory of well-being was performed. The study was approved by the Danish health authorities.


Two dimensions of experiences were found; “Living within a downward spiral” and “Striving for enjoyment and settlement”. The themes describing suffering were: ‘Sense of being thwarted and defeated ‘ and “Tackling energy depletion and impact of sense of self”. The themes describing well-being were: “Hoping for renewal and energised resoluteness” and “Enduring discomfort and feeling safe”.


Interacting existential experiences can be facilitators or barriers for physical activity. It seems relevant for health care providers to address the individual’s lifeworld experiences of well-being, lack of well-being and suffering. Well-being as a sense of feeling “at home” when physically active may break down an inactivity spiral. Promoting well-being is a legitimate aim of lifestyle intervention.

Being active when living within a large body: experiences during lifestyle intervention

Udgivelsesform Videnskabelige artikler
År 2020
Udgiver Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being
ISBN/ISSN 32156205
Længde 12 sider


Claus Vinther Nielsen

Claus Vinther Nielsen

+45 2223 9488


Claus Vinther Nielsen