UBC Faculty Research and Publications

“With Every Step, We Grow Stronger”: The Cardiometabolic Benefits of an Indigenous-Led and Community-Based Healthy Lifestyle Intervention Lai, Henry P. H.; Miles, Rosalin M.; Bredin, Shannon S. D.; Kaufman, Kai L.; Chua, Charlie Z. Y.; Hare, Jan; Norman, Moss E.; Rhodes, Ryan E.; Oh, Paul; Warburton, Darren E. R.


Community-based and Indigenous-led health and wellness approaches have been widely advocated for Indigenous peoples. However, remarkably few Indigenous designed and led interventions exist within the field. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an Indigenous-led and community-based health and wellness intervention in a remote and rural Indigenous community. This protocol was designed by and for Indigenous peoples based on the aspirations of the community (established through sharing circles). A total of 15 participants completed a 13-week walking and healthy lifestyle counselling program (incorporating motivational interviewing) to enhance cardiometabolic health. Measures of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; 7-day accelerometry and self-report), predicted maximal aerobic power (VO2max; 6-min walk test), resting heart rate and blood pressure, and other health-related physical fitness measures (musculoskeletal fitness and body composition) were taken before and after the intervention. The intervention led to significant (p < 0.05) improvements in VO2max (7.1 ± 6.3 % change), with the greatest improvements observed among individuals with lower baseline VO2max (p < 0.05, r = -0.76). Resting heart rate, resting systolic blood pressure, and resting diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly (p < 0.05) after the intervention. Self-reported and accelerometry-measured frequency of MVPA increased significantly (p < 0.05), and the total MVPA minutes (~275 min/week) were above international recommendations. Change in VO2max was significantly correlated with change in self-reported (r = 0.42) and accelerometry-measured (r = 0.24) MVPA minutes. No significant changes were observed in weight, body mass index, waist circumference, body fat (via bioelectrical impedance), grip strength, and flexibility. These findings demonstrate that a culturally relevant and safe, community-based, Indigenous-led, health and wellness intervention can lead to significant and clinically relevant improvements in cardiometabolic health and physical activity behaviour, with the greatest changes being observed in the least active/fit individuals.

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