Physical activity participation among Arab immigrants and refugees in Western societies: A scoping review Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Insufficient physical activity (PA) is the fourth prime risk factor for numerous non-communicable diseases. Arab immigrants and refugees (AIR) are at elevated risk for low or no participation in PA due to socio-cultural and ecological factors. This scoping review examined PA prevalence, knowledge, attitudes as well as barriers vs. facilitators to PA engagement across life domains among AIR in Western countries. A systematic search strategy was implemented across five automated databases (PubMed, Embase, Medline, Sociology Database and Transportation Research Board) to locate pertinent English language papers. Seventy-five articles were included in this study, and stakeholder consultation was conducted to validate the findings. The US and Europe are substantially ahead of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in AIR-PA research. Despite showing positive attitudes and sound knowledge of PA recommendations, AIR exhibited a low PA engagement prevalence, revealing a knowledge-compliance gap. The prevalence of sufficient PA was lowest in the US (11-22%), whereas Europe showed the highest figures (26-45%). Personal barriers to PA participation involved mainstream language illiteracy and limited exercise skills, whereas improved PA literacy was a significant facilitator. Family responsibility and cultural restrictions were common psychosocial/cultural barriers, whereas social support and culturally-sensitive resources were powerful facilitators. Poorly maintained pedestrian/cyclist infrastructure was a leading environmental barrier amongst AIR in North America, but not Europe. Longitudinal and community-engaged AIR-PA research is needed, and intersectoral collaboration is required to inform tailored interventions and inclusive policies, fostering AIR and other vulnerable populations' exercise participation and improving their health and well-being.

publication date

  • June 2021