Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle changes such as sufficient level of physical activity. The number of persons at high risk of or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is increasing all over the world. In order to prevent type 2 diabetes and develop exercise counselling, more studies on motivators and barriers to physical activity are needed. Thus, the aim of this qualitative study was to describe the motivators and barriers to physical activity among individuals with high risk of type 2 diabetes who participated in a substudy of the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study in Oulu and to consider whether the motivators or barriers changed during the follow-up from 2003 to 2008. Questionnaires with open-ended questions were conducted twice: in the first follow-up in 2003 altogether 63 participants answered the questionnaire (n = 93), and in the second follow-up in 2008 altogether 71 participants answered the questionnaire (n = 82). Thus, response rate was 68% in 2003 and 87% in 2008. The study was conducted in the city of Oulu in Finland. Qualitative data were analysed by inductive content analysis using the QSR NVivo 8 software. The results of this study showed that motivators to physical activity included weight management, feelings of physical and mental well being. In addition, social relationships associated with exercise were also motivators. In conclusion, we present that regular counselling is important in order to promote exercise among older people, and that motivators to exercise are strengthened by positive experiences of exercise as one grows older.