Online Program

Exercise culture among new immigrants from africa living in the midwestern United States

Monday, November 4, 2013

Goodwill Apiyo, MA. MDA, Department of Applied Sciences, Indiana University School of Public Health - Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
Cecilia Obeng, PhD, MPH, Department of Applied Health Sciences, Indiana University School of Public Health - Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
Introduction: This qualitative study uses phenomenology to investigate exercise culture among African immigrants in the Midwestern U.S. Physical inactivity is a priority health risk behavior and a leading contributor to morbidity and mortality in the country. Immigrants are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population (Goel et al., 2004). Their health status impacts the country's overall health standing.

Methodology: Open-ended probing interviews were administered in this phenomenological study. Participants (n=32) were recruited through non-probability purposive and snowball sampling procedures. Interview transcripts were analyzed thematically in a stepwise procedure as outlined by Collazi (1978).

Results: Themes emerging from their narratives include a) culture: “women from my country cover their heads if there are men around so we don't like to exercise just anywhere” and “It's difficult to dress lightly for sports because in my culture, such dressing is seen as indecent” b) commitments: “I am a single mother studying fulltime. When my daughter comes home from school, she has to find food ready and I have to assist her with homework. When we are done, I have to start my schoolwork. I don't have time.” and c) personal grooming: “I can't afford to sweat. I just started making dreadlocks and my hair stylist advised me against getting my hair wet lest it untangles.” Discussion: Because of the central role of culture on immigrant exercise behavior, the study recommends that resources on women-only gyms, childcare assisting social support groups, and education debunking hair care myths be made available to this population.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
List factors influencing current exercise patterns among immigrants originally from Africa and living in the Midwestern United States. Explain the role that culture plays on exercise behavior among African immigrants living in the Midwest, U.S.

Keyword(s): Immigrants, Exercise

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research (collected, analyzed and interpreted the data) under the guidance of the second author, a PhD qualitative research expert with extensive research background and several publications in peer reviewed journals. I am a PhD student majoring in Health Behavior and minoring in both International Health and Epidemiology. I have research interests immigrant health, specifically reproductive health and physical activity. I have extensive public health research and work experience with the study population.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.