Indigenous australians perceptions’ of physical activity: A qualitative systematic review

Emma E. Dahlberg, Sandra J. Hamilton, Fatuma Hamid, Sandra C. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Given poorer health and higher rates of chronic disease seen in Indigenous populations around the world and the evidence linking exercise with health and wellbeing, recommendations for encouraging and increasing Indigenous people’s participation in physical activity are needed. This paper systematically reviews published qualitative research papers exploring issues related to the perspectives of Indigenous Australians around physical activity. Key terms relevant to attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of Indigenous Australians on physical activity and sport were explored in 11 electronic bibliographic databases including EMBASE, Medline and Web of Science. Of the 783 studies screened, eight qualitative studies met the selection criteria; only one was exclusively undertaken in a rural setting. Four major themes emerged: family and community, culture and environment, sport, and gender differences. Men highlighted sport and going on walkabout as preferred types of physical activity while women preferred family-focused activities and activities and support for women's sport. Several studies found exercise was supported when in the context of family and community but was considered shameful when done only for oneself. Sport was regarded as playing an influential role in bringing communities together. Group, community, or family activities were desired forms of physical activity with the environment they are conducted in of high importance. These findings should inform future research and intervention programs aimed at addressing the physical activity levels of Indigenous Australians and may be relevant to other Indigenous populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1492
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2018


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