Physical Activity Among Female Adolescents of Indian and Polish Origin in Mississauga, Ontario: An Examination of Shared and Ethno-Cultural Barriers


  • John Joseph Michael Dwyer University of Guelph
  • Kathi Wilson University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Lisa Limarzi Get Active Mississauga
  • Brenda Callaghan Get Active Mississauga
  • Leslie Croskery Queen's University


Physical activity, barriers, cultural


To understand the factors that shape inactivity, this research focused on identifying barriers to physical activity among female inactive adolescents (aged 13-17 years) of Indian and Polish origin living in Mississauga, Ontario.  In 2008, 10 focus groups sessions were held with Indian (n=42) and Polish (n=45) inactive female adolescents.  The focus group questions were designed to identify barriers to physical activity common to Indian and Polish female adolescents but also culturally-specific barriers.  The results revealed three shared barriers: time constraints, perceived incompetence, and inaccessibility (economic and geographic).  Also, there were culturally-specific barriers to physical activity.  

Among Polish participants, these barriers related to cultural commitments, whereas Indian participants identified concerns over skin exposure, traditional gender roles, and discrimination.  Recommendations will be disseminated to local community partners to provide evidence that will inform programs related to increasing rates of physical activity in the City of Mississauga.


Author Biographies

John Joseph Michael Dwyer, University of Guelph

Associate Professor

Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition

Kathi Wilson, University of Toronto Mississauga

Department of Geography






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