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Overweight and obesity among Aboriginal women is a growing concern, with increasing prevalence rates linked to a sedentary lifestyle. Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for unhealthy body weight; however before addressing health enhancing behaviors, understanding lifestyle practices, attitudes and beliefs are important.
A mixed methods approach assessed physical activity (PA) practices (n = 58), and attitudes and beliefs (n = 19) among First Nations women. The Modifiable Activity Questionnaire assessed PA, and a focused ethnography explored attitudes and beliefs.
Self-reported PA was highest in the youngest age group. Both total and leisure-time PA decreased when house-related activities were not accounted for. Younger participants reported sport-related activities, while older participants reported traditional activities (eg, berry picking, fishing). Participants’ believed PA promoted good health, yet personal (ie, lack of time), community-specific (ie, lack of opportunities/encouragement) and environmental (ie, inclement weather, safety) factors acted as barriers. Age-specific, women-only programs were highlighted as potential enablers.
The findings highlight the need to assess cultural specific practices, attitudes and beliefs as PA programs that focus on reducing barriers identified in the community and are designed based on expressed interest and preferences may improve leisure-related PA levels among all age groups.
Bruner is with the School of Physical and Health Education, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada. Chad is with the College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.