Exploring influence of social ecological factors on the physical activity behaviours of Southeast Asian youth who are newcomers to Canada
Harwood-Johnson, Emily Mae Anne
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Introduction: The term newcomer refers to people who have immigrated within the past ten years and are still adjusting to the culture and customs of their new country. Many youth who are newcomers report having a unique experience with settlement that requires them to settle in the society of their new country while undergoing the psycho-social development associated with adolescence. Physical activity may be beneficial to newcomer youth because it provides an opportunity to experience language and culture in a setting not dominated by verbal communication. The physical activity levels of Canadian newcomer youth are lower than that of immigrants who have lived in Canada longer as well as Canadian born youth. Among young newcomers in Canada, those arriving from Southeast Asian countries have the lowest physical activity levels. Purpose: The purpose of this research was to measure the physical activity levels of Southeast Asian youth who are newcomers and to understand the individual, social, community, and policy factors that influence the physical activity behaviours of Southeast Asian youth who are newcomers to Canada. Methods: Using an explanatory sequential mixed methods research design, this study collected data in two phases. The first phase was quantitative and used questionnaires and pedometers to measure physical activity levels among the participants (N = 8). The second phase used focus groups and a semi-structured interview guide based on McLeroy et al.’s (1988) ecological model of health promotion (EMHP) to explore the social ecological factors that influence the participants’ (N = 8) physical activity behaviours. Results: Results from Phase One revealed that either 0% or 12.5% of participants were physically active enough to meet Canadian physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of MVPA per day depending on the operationalized definition. Additionally, there were no significant differences in physical activity levels when compared by gender or time since immigration. In Phase Two, participants identified factors in every level of the EMHP (e.g. intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and policy) that influenced their physical activity behaviours. Conclusion: The findings of this study support previous research that has found that Southeast Asian youth who are newcomers have low physical activity levels. Upon further investigation in the focus groups, the participants identified some factors that enhance or increase their physical activity levels and other factors that make it more difficult for them to be physically active. This study contributes to the growing body of research, by directly measuring physical activity levels of newcomer youth and by providing newcomer youth with an opportunity to share their personal experiences with physical activity in Canada.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeErlandson, Marta; Froelich-Chow, Amanda; Kalyn, Brenda
Copyright DateJuly 2020
newcomer, youth, physical activity, Southeast Asia, social ecological