A Qualitative Investigation of Physical Activity Challenges and Opportunities in a Northern-rural, Aboriginal Community: Voices from Within





Type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Aboriginal communities, health care professionals and health promotion researchers are turning their attention to primary prevention through increased physical activity (PA) and healthy eating. Before effective interventions can be designed and implemented, an understanding of the wants, needs, and perceptions of the community must be garnered.


To investigate the perceptions of the community environment and PA patterns of adults living in a northern-rural, Aboriginal community and to inform the planning and implementation of community-relevant PA interventions.


Three sharing circle discussions were conducted with 5 men and 8 women (mean age=42 years, SD=12.42) who discussed their PA involvement, community specific challenges to being active, and programs/resources they would like implemented. A community teacher facilitated sharing circles using structured interview questions.


Three “physical activity challenges” were identified: lack of culturally relevant opportunities, economic disparity, and a lack of gender specific opportunities. Three “physical activity recommendations” were given: increase physical activity through a reconnect to the land via traditional activities such as fishing and hunting, increase access by decreasing cost, and provide opportunities that appeal to both men and women.


Results suggest that providing traditionally relevant PA opportunities may enhance perceptions of a supportive environment and possibly impact PA involvement. The social ecological paradigm may be useful for designing and implementing interventions in Aboriginal communities because it considers cultural aspects of the person and community.

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