Aim To understand the barriers to and motivations for physical activity among second-generation British Indian women. Subject Approximately 50% of British South Asians are UK-born, and this group is increasing as the second-generation also have children. Previous research into the barriers to and facilitators for physical activity has focused on migrant, first-generation populations. Qualitative research is needed to understand a) how we might further reduce the gap in physical activity levels between White British women and British Indian women and b) the different approaches that may be required for different generations. Methods Applying a socioecological model to take into account the wider social and physical contexts, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 28 Indian women living in Manchester, England. Interviews with first-generation British Indian women were also included to provide a comparator. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, thematically coded and analysed using a grounded theory approach. Results Ways of socialising, concerns over appearance while being physically active, safety concerns and prioritising educational attainment in adolescence were all described as barriers to physical activity in second-generation British Indian women. Facilitators for physical activity included acknowledging the importance of taking time out for oneself; religious beliefs and religious groups promoting activity; being prompted by family illness; positive messages in both the media and while at school, and having local facilities to use. Conclusions Barriers to physical activity in second-generation Indian women were very similar to those already reported for White British women. Public health measures aimed at women in the general population may also positively affect second-generation Indian women. First-generation Indian women, second-generation children and Muslim women may respond better to culturally tailored interventions.