Barriers to outdoor physical activity in wintertime among Somali youth.

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Journal Title

J Immigr Minor Health

MeSH Headings

Adolescent, Adult, Child, Cultural Characteristics, Exercise, Female, Focus Groups, Health Behavior, Humans, Maine, Male, Seasons, Social Class, Somalia


To identify barriers to outdoor physical activity in winter among Somali youth in Maine. Despite the many proven health benefits of physical activity among children, such as cardiovascular fitness and health status as an adult, there has been a decrease in physical activity among children in recent years. Specifically, children who are of low socio-economic status or are from communities where many immigrants are at increased risk for developing obesity. Immigrants are also less likely to be physically active. There are many potential barriers to wintertime physical activity among Somali youth in Maine, such as lack of financial resources, transportation, proper winter clothing, and appropriate knowledge of winter safety, and language and cultural barriers. For females, different attire required for outdoor activity may be a barrier. Somali parents and children were recruited from Portland, Maine to participate in focus groups led by a trained facilitator with a Somali translator and cultural broker. Transcripts were coded using NVIVO software to identify barriers to physical activity among Somali youth outside in winter. Eight focus groups were conducted. Sixty-one Somali community members were recruited. Participants felt outdoor physical activity is important, but note that it is decreased in winter. Barriers to outdoor activity in winter cited by focus group participants were lack of resources, health concerns, gender barriers for females, and knowledge barriers. Concern over lack of supervision while children play outside was also cited. This study revealed many of the underlying beliefs, barriers and cultural issues that impact Somali families' intention to be active and ability to be active outdoors in winter. These findings can be used to generate research hypotheses and public health interventions regarding outdoor physical activity among Somali youth.



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