Physical Activity Experiences of Persian Women Recently Immigrated to Canada

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Ameli Mojarad, Elham
Immigrants' Health Behaviour , Healthy Immigrant Effect , Physical Activity in Persian (Iranian) Immigrants in Canada , Physical Activity in New Immigrants , Physical Activity in West Asian immigrants in Canada , Immigrants' Physical Activity , Immigrants' Health Decline , Immigrants' Health
New immigrants to Canada are generally in similar or better physical and mental health than people born in Canada, however, many studies suggest that their health tends to decline quickly after immigration. Lower physical activity levels among new immigrants might be contributing to this phenomenon. There is a paucity of information regarding the physical activity behaviour of the Canadian immigrant population in general and of West Asian women, such as Iranians (Persians), in particular. Given that this group is characterised by an increasing population growth and lower rates of physical activity, it is critical to understand how best to address physical activity promotion in this population. Purpose: To understand the physical activity experiences of Persian women recently immigrated to Toronto, Canada in order to develop recommendations for the design and implementation of tailored physical activity programs. Methods: A qualitative interpretive description approach was chosen to collect and describe ideas, experiences, and perceptions of physical activity within 10 new immigrant women. Using an inductive approach, two fundamental techniques of immersion and crystallization were used throughout the analysis. Thematic analysis was conducted by performing a sequential process of open and axial coding. Emerged themes were further conceptualized through a socio-ecological lens. Results: The facilitators and barriers to physical activity among the women were situated within five overarching categories, 1) Perceptions about physical activity, 2) New physical environment and social structure, 3) Cultural heritage values, 4) Settlement and immigration factors, and 5) Physical activity program features. Discussion: Findings revealed that Persian new immigrant women’s engagement in physical activity after immigration is influenced by factors across the individual, sociocultural, environmental, institutional, and policy levels. Newcomer women’s physical activity was influenced by their transition from their society of origin to the host society and the challenges and successes experienced throughout the settlement and acculturation process. The most noticeable barrier to physical activity in Canada for the women emerged as the lack of communication of physical activity information to newcomers. A set of recommendations is provided for developing efficient physical activity programs for Persian immigrant women, which may also be relevant for other immigrant groups in Canada.
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