PhD defence - Verena Lenneis

Verena Lenneis is defending her PhD thesis

The life, work and recreational physical activity of female cleaners


14 November 2016, 12:00


Store Auditorium, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Nørre Allé 51, 2200 Copenhagen N


Associate Professor Helle Winther (chair), Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Professor Jorid Hovden, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Professor Susanna Hedenborg, Malmö University, Sweden


Professor emerita Gertrud Pfister, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

About the thesis

The main aim of this article-based PhD thesis was to explore the recreational physical activity (PA) participation of female cleaners – an occupational group mainly consisting of minority ethnic women from non-western countries.

Via participant observation and semi-structured interviews with 42 cleaners and their supervisors I gained insights into their experiences with and great challenges to participate in a worksite fitness programme, their work, family and everyday lives, their previous experiences with PA and their health-related knowledge, opinions and practices.

The four articles draw a coherent picture: the interviewees’ everyday lives as migrant cleaners in Denmark had a decisive influence on their opportunities to engage in recreational PA: most women struggled with the demands of a physically exhausting job and an extensive ‘second shift’ at home and had therefore great difficulty exercising. In addition, (lack of) previous experience of sport and recreational physical activity seemed to have a decisive influence on their current recreational physical activity practices.

One of the four articles the PhD thesis is based on got recently published in the journal Leisure Studies.

2016, 230 pages