Mandy Robison, University of Utah
Many barriers hinder refugees from regularly exercising upon immigration to the United States. The purpose of this research project is to improve program planning with the goal of helping refugees achieve optimal wellbeing. This project involves ten sessions with refugees, including a component of exercise teaching preceded by a focus group and self-administered survey. Sessions are conducted at the Refugee Education and Training Center in Salt Lake City throughout the fall of 2017. Focus group discussion includes perspectives on perceived susceptibility of getting enough exercise, perceived severity of conditions accompanying sedentary lifestyle, perceived benefits of regular exercise, and perceived obstacles that make regular exercise difficult. Class participants are also asked to discuss their motivation for exercise and their opinion on resources for exercise. Though data is still being gathered for this project, current analysis shows that participants enjoy the exercise class. Focus group data shows that some participants believe a lack of regular exercise will lead to sickness, weight gain, and the potential for diagnosis of diabetes. Data shows that few class participants exercise regularly. In general, participants who did not exercise regularly tend to be unclear about benefits of physical activity for physical and mental health. The majority of class participants do not know of community resources for exercise. Conclusions drawn from our preliminary data show that more exercise classes should be offered to refugee populations in the community. In addition to exercise classes, there is a need for refugee education surrounding the benefits of physical activity as it pertains to physical and mental health.