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Perceived and Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time among South Asian Women in the UK

School of Health, Sport and Biosciences, University of East London, London E15 4LZ, UK
School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Rachel Davey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(3), 3152-3173;
Received: 22 December 2014 / Revised: 9 March 2015 / Accepted: 10 March 2015 / Published: 16 March 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Activity and Public Health-)
PDF [852 KB, uploaded 16 March 2015]


Introduction: Limited self-report data suggest that South Asian (SA) women fail to meet physical activity (PA) recommendations. Recent research using objective measures reveals SA women living in the UK have higher PA levels than previously reported, and a pattern of under-reporting PA and sedentary time (ST). There is limited research on SA women’s understanding and experiences of PA/ST, and the cultural contexts and conditions within which they occur. Therefore the aims of this mixed-methods study were to compare perceived PA and ST to objectively measured data and explore PA- and ST-specific contexts, experiences, and sources of PA and ST amongst SA women in the UK. Methods: 24 women were purposively sampled to participate in a semi-structured interview from a larger study of 140 women who wore an accelerometer for 7 days. Demographic and anthropometric data were also collected. Results: Notable qualitative themes on contextualisation were of adequate PA as “keeping busy” or “being healthy”, and of ST as “lazy” or “resting in old age”. Few participants reported being sedentary, and most believed they were sufficiently physically active. Objectively measured PA/ST indicated that 66% women were less active than perceived (with regard to duration and intensity), with none able to estimate duration of ST. Discussion: Findings suggest that overall, SA women have contextualisations of PA/ST that may not coincide with those of researchers, health professionals and policy makers, and lack awareness of the intensity of PA in which they engage and the health risks of high levels of ST. These findings highlight the need for objective measures of PA and ST in this population combined with in-depth qualitative assessments to provide more accurate assessments of these behaviours. This information can subsequently be used to develop health promotion messages and interventions focusing on increasing duration and/or intensity levels of daily activities (e.g., walking, housework) and reducing ST in this population. View Full-Text
Keywords: physical activity; sedentary time; ethnicity; culture physical activity; sedentary time; ethnicity; culture

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Curry, W.B.; Duda, J.L.; Thompson, J.L. Perceived and Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time among South Asian Women in the UK. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 3152-3173.

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