Barriers and facilitators for physical activity and exercise among adult Indian American women in central Texas

Peteria Chan, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background and Aims Type 2 diabetes and heart disease rates among Indian Americans in the United States are highly prevalent and continue to increase. Engaging in regular physical activity has been found to promote health and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. Much evidence shows, however, that the majority of Asian American adult women do not perform physical activity at the recommended levels and spend much time in sedentary activity compared to other groups. With the aim of informing health promotion interventions and programs, this qualitative study explored perceived barriers and facilitating factors for initiating and maintaining physical activity in adult Indian American women living in central Texas. Methods Thirteen one-on-one interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted with Indian women between the ages of 35 to 85 years. Several rounds of coding were then performed to identify initial codes, which were reviewed, modified and later organized into broader categories. Simultaneously, content analysis of the coded data was performed using a combination of the `conventional analysis approach', where coding categories are derived solely from the raw data, and the `directed analysis approach', where initial coding begins with a theory or relevant research findings and researchers immerse themselves into the data and allow themes to emerge. Findings Key findings indicated that physical activity and exercise were normative among this sample of Indian American women, and common types of activity cited included walking and yoga, in addition to fitness classes and cardio and weight exercises. Common locations identified were gyms, nearby public spaces, and homes. While most women were self-reportedly quite active, they discussed how beliefs and norms related to physical activity have changed overtime. A combination of individual, interpersonal, socio-cultural, and external level factors influenced physical activity and exercise behavior. Expectations related to improved health, fitness, or wellbeing and levels of motivation were commonly attributed to influencing physical activity. Activities such as task sharing, especially with husbands, and friends and family members providing encouragement, advice, and information about health and physical activity were also described as facilitating factors. Furthermore, the opportunity to socially interact and connect with others and keeping up with social obligations and expectation among friends and family members were also mentioned as facilitators. In contrast, beliefs regarding the women's role as the sole caretaker and beliefs about modest dress and clothing were described as barriers to exercise and physical activity. Additionally, norms regarding physical activity and exercise among social circle, time, climate, and transportation, were cited as both barriers and facilitators for physical activity and exercise. Lastly, women shared ideas for future physical activity programs and interventions, which included comments regarding general attributes to programming, promotion and education ideas, as well as outreach and communication ideas. Conclusion In conclusion, this study revealed a variety of facilitating factors and barriers affecting physical activity and exercise among adult Indian American women which can be useful for the planning and development of targeted physical activity programs.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Public health|Kinesiology|South Asian Studies

Recommended Citation

Chan, Peteria, "Barriers and facilitators for physical activity and exercise among adult Indian American women in central Texas" (2014). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1586820.