Playing Together: The Physical Activity Beliefs and Behaviors of Urban Aboriginal Youth

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Urban Aboriginal youth are a rapidly growing segment of the Canadian population that unfortunately bears a disproportionate level of illness. One way to improve the health of urban Aboriginal youth is to increase their physical activity. It is important to understand what this group’s beliefs and behaviors are on physical activity so that programs that meet their needs can be developed.


This ethnographic study engaged 15 urban Aboriginal youth to understand what their physical activity beliefs and behaviors were.


Results revealed 4 themes: “group physical activity preference,” “focus on the family,” “traditional physical activity,” and “location of residence as a barrier.” These themes illustrated that urban Aboriginal youth have a preference for group physical activity and enjoy traditional Aboriginal forms of activity. Results also showed that the family plays a critical role in their physical activity patterns. Lastly, participants in this study believed that their location of residence was a barrier to physical activity.


Community leaders need to be sensitive to the barriers that this cultural group faces and build on the strengths that are present among this group when developing physical activity programming.

The authors are with the College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Kerpan ( is corresponding author.
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