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Cultural and Social Determinants of Indigenous Peoples of Canada's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviours



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Introduction: Many Indigenous peoples take a wholistic approach to health and well-being which includes cultural, social, mental, and physical aspects of health. Improved physical activity (PA) and decreased sedentary behaviours (SB) have been shown to attenuate the risk of many chronic diseases. As Indigenous populations experience elevated risks for chronic diseases, PA and SB may be ideal targets for Indigenous health-related interventions. To date, little research is available on the sociocultural determinants of PA or SB in Indigenous peoples. Objective: The objective of this study is to examine possible cultural and social determinants of PA and SB among Indigenous populations. Methods: This research study followed the methodologies outlined in Chapter 9 of the Tri-Council Policy Statement 2, while also using a decolonizing lens, taking a strength-based approach, and overseen by an Indigenous community advisory group. Participants were self-identified, Indigenous students, staff, and faculty and were given the option of taking an online survey or interviewer administered survey. Factors evaluated were PA, SB, cultural connectedness, discriminatory experiences, social support, family influences, historic trauma, education, income, tobacco and alcohol use, home residence, sex, and gender. Results: Indigenous students, staff, and faculty participated in this study for a total sample of 124 people. Cultural connectedness was positively associated with PA in First Nations and Cree participants but negatively associated in Métis participants. Social support was found to be positively associated with muscle strengthening activities. Physical activity of participants who experienced, or had a family member experience, residential school or foster care was influenced by this historic trauma. Overall Indigenous participant’s PA was negatively associated with living in a northern community and being female. Métis peoples who were more physically active were found to be less sedentary. Overall Indigenous participant’s SB were negatively associated with discriminatory experiences, income, and living off-reserve. No associations between PA or SB were found when examining education, tobacco and alcohol use, and gender. Conclusion: Cultural connectedness, discriminatory experiences, social support, family influences, historic trauma, income, home residence, and sex seem to be determinants of PA and/or SB; while education, tobacco and alcohol use, and gender do not.



Indigenous Health, Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviours, Cultural Determinants, Social Determinants



Master of Science (M.Sc.)






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