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Journal Article

Life Stage Influences on U.S. South Asian Women's Physical Activity

Abstract Purpose . South Asian (SA) women in the United States report extremely low rates of leisure time physical activity (PA) compared with women in other ethnic minority groups. This study explored SA women's perspectives on PA during different life stages. Design . This is a community-based participatory research study that used focus groups. Setting . The study setting was a community-based organization that provides social services to SA immigrants in Chicago, Illinois. Participants . The study team conducted six focus groups (in English and Hindi) with 42 SA women, ages 18 to 71 years. Method . A semistructured interview guide was used to foster discussion about perceptions of, barriers to/facilitators of, and suggestions for PA programs. Discussions were transcribed and independently coded by two reviewers using thematic content analysis and guided by a coding scheme that was developed a priori. Results . Participants said that different life stages strongly influenced their PA. PA decreased after marriage and having children. Chronic diseases constrained older women from more vigorous PA. Barriers to PA among younger women were family disapproval and perceptions that PA is unnecessary if you are "skinny." Women agreed that PA is not a priority within the culture, and that interventions must take into account cultural, religious, and family context. Conclusion . Sociocultural norms, family constraints, and lack of awareness about the benefits of PA strongly influenced PA among SA women. Culturally salient intervention strategies might include programs in trusted community settings where women can exercise in women-only classes with their children, and targeted education campaigns to increase awareness about the benefits of PA across life stages.

S.S. Dave
L.L. Craft
P. Mehta
S. Naval
S. Kumar
N.R. Kandula
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