Exercise as it relates to Disease/Physical Activity Benefits and Barriers for Refugee women

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This is an analysis of the journal article Physical Activity Programs for Refugee Somali Women: Working out in a New Country by Pauline B Guerin, Roda Omar Diiriye, Callie Corrigan and Bernard guerin (2008)

What is the background to the research?[edit]

Somali Islamic refugee women face numerous challenges when trying to adapt to their new non-Islamic country of residence. The majority of these women are widows so are the main person responsible for the well-being of their families. Religious and language differences combined with a change in lifestyle from Pastoral and nomadic to a more sedentary urban life,[1] plus a change in diet can all lead to health problems with Somali women having higher rates of overweight/obesity, low fitness levels and low levels of cardio respiratory fitness compared to non-immigrant women[2] as well as increased risks of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental health problems. Often these refugees have experienced abuse and trauma in these poorly rationed grim refugee camps [3] and so it is vitally important that their mental, physical and social health is improved and maintained. Achieving and maintaining good levels of physical activity can contribute to the overall good health of these women. The aim of this research was to facilitate opportunities for Somali women to participate in physical activities and to provide suitable facilities for these activities with the co-operation of the community and to identify barriers that prevented their involvement in exercise/ physical activity programs.

Where is this research from?[edit]

This study was carried out when the authors were employed by the Wiakato Institute of Technology in Hamilton, New Zealand. Hamilton has a population of 108,000 people(2002) from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The majority of the population living in Hamilton are of European Christian ethnic background, about 18% Maori and only 850-900 are Somali.[4]

What kind of research was this?[edit]

The type of research used was qualitative research through the use of Interviews, Observations and general conversations with the Somali Women.

What did the research involve?[edit]

Interviews, conversations and observations were used to identify the barriers to exercise and fitness of Somali women in Hamilton. AS a result three exercise programs were initiated with over 100 women participating, with ages ranging from 17 to 67 years. Most of these women had lived in New Zealand for an average of 3.5 years but the range was between 2 months and 7 years. Seventy five percent of the women had young families, the average having 5 children with ages 1–9 years. Education and employment details were not collected for this study but other data from research done by Guerin, Abdi & Guerin 2003 suggest that most Somali women are unemployed and receiving government benefits. The three exercise programs initiated were: a sport and walking group, a 3 month trial membership at a women-only fitness centre and exercise classes conducted at a community centre. The programs were not operated independently and there was some overlap in membership of the groups. The exercise classes were conducted at a community centre that had a gym facility. The times of the sessions were negotiated with the women and the gym facility was adapted so the women were not able to be seen as they exercised. The sessions were held three times a week in the evenings for six weeks. After six weeks the community centre based exercise classes finished. A women-only facility was then approached to provide subsidized 3 month membership for 20 women who were interested in utilizing gym equipment to exercise. Once the gym memberships had elapsed a walking/sport group was arranged. This was held after dark at a local high school sport field. The group met twice a week where the women were able to job, walk, play soccer or netball as well as other exercises and ball games.

What were the basic results?[edit]

The analysis of the three programs were compiled from interviews, conversations and observations during the one year the programs ran. Between eight and forty women attended each of the 16 sessions held at the community centre with the average attendance being 9 sessions(range 0-16) The walking/sport group usually had between 6-15 women attending. The gym membership was limited to 20 members. 27 women who attended the community centre classes, were interviewed and all stated that in the week before being interviewed that they had done less than 2.5 hours of physical activity and no participation in any sport and 96% agreed that they needed to be more physically active. Monitoring of the gym membership attendance was done through using the membership swipe cards and indications were that women regularly attended a few times a week for the three months. When questioned, most women enjoyed both types of exercise programs and 96% wanted the classes to continue. Several barriers that prevented some women from attending the activities include

Benefits Barriers
Greater mental health Childcare/ family responsibilities
Decreased risk of Diabetes Religious reasons
Decreased body fat mass Lack of transport
Decreased risk of CVD Lack of finances

What conclusions can we take from this research?[edit]

One exercise program is not going to work for everyone. Exercise programs have to be adapted to meet the needs and preferences of individual groups in order to be successful. Information obtained from the Somali women through conversations and interviews indicated that opportunities for physical activity with the provisions that are religiously and culturally appropriate will benefit the women and their community in many ways. Engaging in physical activity decreases weight gain and improves the women's physical health. The opportunity for social relationships and cohesion in the community. The gym programs also provided opportunity for the women to interact with others from the wider community. Identification of the Somali women's needs and adapting the programs accordingly contributed to the success of these programs.

Practical advice[edit]

Exercise programs have to be adapted to meet the needs and preferences of individual groups in order to be successful. Constant consultation with members of the community is also vital to the success of these programs as well as practical issues such as transport, childcare, language difficulties and cost.

Further reading[edit]

Jennifer Carroll , Ronald Epstein , Kevin Fiscella University of Rochester School of Medicine , Rochester , New York , USA , Ellen Volpe , Katherine Diaz & Sadiya Omar http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07399330601179935?scroll=top&needAccess=true

References[edit]

  1. Devlin, John T. et al. "Determinants Of Physical Activity Among Somali Women Living In Maine". Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 14.2 (2011): 300-306. Web.
  2. Persson, G. "Somali Women's View Of Physical Activity—A Focus Group Study". Physiotherapy 101 (2015): e1198-e1199. Web.
  3. Carroll, Jennifer et al. "Caring For Somali Women: Implications For Clinician–Patient Communication". Patient Education and Counseling 66.3 (2007): 337-345. Web.
  4. Guerin, Pauline B. et al. "Physical Activity Programs For Refugee Somali Women: Working Out In A New Country". Women & Health 38.1 (2003): 83-99. Web.

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  1. Persson, G. "Somali Women's View Of Physical Activity—A Focus Group Study". Physiotherapy 101 (2015): e1198-e1199. Web.
  2. Devlin, John T. et al. "Determinants Of Physical Activity Among Somali Women Living In Maine". Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 14.2 (2011): 300-306. Web.
  3. Carroll, Jennifer et al. "Caring For Somali Women: Implications For Clinician–Patient Communication". Patient Education and Counseling 66.3 (2007): 337-345. Web.
  4. Guerin, Pauline B. et al. "Physical Activity Programs For Refugee Somali Women: Working Out In A New Country". Women & Health 38.1 (2003): 83-99. Web.
  5. Carroll, Jennifer et al. "Knowledge And Beliefs About Health Promotion And Preventive Health Care Among Somali Women In The United States". Health Care for Women International 28.4 (2007): 360-380. Web.