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Am J Prev Med. 2006 Jul;31(1):36-46. Epub 2006 May 24.

Physical activity and Native Americans: a review.

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School of Physical Education, Behavioral Medicine Laboratory, Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.


The physical activity behaviors of Native-American populations in the United States and Canada have received little attention in the health literature. The purpose of this review was to unite the literature regarding the physical activity behaviors of Native Americans. A majority of the literature was obtained using online databases. Reference lists were also reviewed to gain further access to the literature. Key-word searches included various combinations of Aboriginal, Native Indian, American Indian, Native American, First Nation, M├ętis, or Alaska Native with physical activity, exercise, and health behavior. Articles included were those published in English-language, peer-reviewed journals from 1990 until November 2005 that focused on participants aged 18 years and older. This review is organized according to ecologic models of health behavior, which take into account several correlates to explain human behavior, including demographic, personal health, environmental, and psychosocial. Correlates were included if they appeared at least three times in the literature. As a result of these inclusion criteria, the number of reviewed articles includes 28 quantitative, 4 qualitative, and 3 intervention studies. Results indicate that age, gender, and social support are important factors associated with physical activity. The remaining correlates show inconsistent or indeterminate results due in part to the paucity of research. It is suggested that an increase in the number of studies, especially those using longitudinal designs, is needed. Further, the application of psychosocial models to understand physical activity motivations as well as culturally appropriate and validated measurement tools are largely absent in the Native-American physical activity literature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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