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OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to synthesise views and experiences of South Asian (SA) older adults in relation to exercise and physical activity (PA). It was anticipated that this work would identify barriers and facilitators that could inform interventions aimed at promoting PA among this population. METHOD: A systematic review of qualitative research was conducted. Six electronic databases were searched for relevant papers published from January 2000 to October 2011. Studies were appraised and data extracted by two reviewers. A synthesis was undertaken using framework analysis. Of 26 papers read in full, 11 were included in the review. RESULTS: An overriding concept derived from the synthesis was the influence of empowering and disempowering contexts on PA levels of SA participants. It was supported by the following themes: communication (e.g. relying on relatives for translation of information, lack of understanding); relationships (e.g. social support from family, friends, community), beliefs (e.g. not culturally appropriate to exercise, fatalism) and environment (e.g. lack of accessible recreational areas/facilities). CONCLUSIONS: Drawing on community resources to generate group norms appears to be important when trying to increase exercise and PA among SA older adults. Implications of the results for PA promotion and provision are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Prev Med

Publication Date





276 - 284


Aged, Asia, Evaluation Studies as Topic, Exercise, Female, Guideline Adherence, Health Promotion, Humans, Male, Patient Compliance, Qualitative Research, Social Facilitation