Fitness programs for minority adults lack cultural relevance, MU study finds

Jesslyn Tenhouse
EurekAlert

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Many leading causes of death are linked to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, including inadequate physical activity. Adults in minority populations have lower levels of physical activity and higher rates of preventable deaths, according to the Department of Health & Human Services. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers found that minority adults who received exercise interventions increased their physical activity levels. However, these interventions are not culturally tailored to best assist minority populations in improving overall health.

Conn conducted an analysis of more than 100 studies that tested exercise interventions in 21,151 participants from minority populations. The majority of the supervised exercise studies included short-term programs with weekly exercise sessions, lasting an average of 12 weeks.

“In reviewing the studies, we were surprised at how infrequently the researchers culturally tailored the motivational interventions,” said Vicki Conn, associate dean for research and Potter-Brinton professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “For example, in the majority of interventions for African Americans, there is no evidence that African Americans helped design the study, recruit participants or deliver the programs. This reveals a challenge in this area of science – although many researchers are concerned about increasing exercise in minority populations, interventions are not being culturally tailored to these populations.”

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