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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community-based physical activity and the risk for cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal Canadians Foulds, Heather-Jean


Introduction: Aboriginal individuals continue to experience greater levels of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes than the Canadian general population, though these diseases were historically rare. Increasing evidence indicates rising sedentary behaviours from the traditional healthy and active lifestyles of this population. Various interventions have been implemented to address the health inequities in Aboriginal peoples with mixed results. Unfortunately, limited research has taken a culturally appropriate community approach to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal peoples. By implementing a community-based and participatory physical activity (PA) and healthy living program, health and wellness can be improved in a culturally relevant context. Purposes: The primary purpose of this investigation was to examine the health benefits of a community-based PA and healthy living intervention program for Aboriginal Canadians. Methods: Participants were recruited through local Aboriginal offices representing male and female participants of wide ranging ages and CVD risk profiles. Each participant completed identical testing days pre- and post-training including a variety of CVD risk factors and four CVD risk scoring systems. Participants were self-assigned to three different community-based PA interventions including walking, walk/running, or running. Results: Significant improvements in health measures and CVD risk scores were observed for both male and female participants of all age groups. The three PA programs produce similar improvements in health measures and risk scores. Individuals of high, moderate and low CVD risk also experienced similar improvements. Discussion: High program compliance indicated success for improving PA of this population. Improvements among both genders and a variety of age groups support this program as a successful intervention for males and females of all ages. The similar changes in health status with each of the programs suggest that Aboriginal adults successfully self-select an appropriate PA intervention for health benefits. Moreover, the similarity in improvements among participants of a variety of CVD risk classifications indicates this individualized program was appropriate for improving the health status of individuals of a range of CVD risk profiles. Conclusion: The self-selected intensities Hearts inTraining program was successful in improving health status and increasing PA for Aboriginal adults of all ages, genders and risk categories.

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