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Academics urge local women to be more active

3 April 2014

Charnwood’s Bangladeshi community is the focus of a Loughborough University project to increase physical activity rates and improve health.

South Asian minority groups in the UK have some of the country’s lowest physical activity participation rates, and the highest risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

An earlier study (Project Mina) involving Loughborough Professor Barry Bogin revealed Bangladeshi women have some of the UK’s lowest levels of measured physical function, which can affect their ability to carry out simple day-to-day tasks.

This latest Loughborough study, which kicked off this month, is working with local Bangladeshi women, Loughborough Leisure Centre and The Centre community gym to offer a series of women-only zumba, pilates, aerobics and indoor cycling classes.

Researchers are speaking with Bangladeshi women to understand their barriers to physical activity, and will measure participants’ physical benefits following 13 weeks of regular exercise.

Lead researcher Ishrat Islam explains:

“Bangladeshi women have alarming age-related declines in physical function and some of the highest rates of chronic disease. By providing them with new opportunities to exercise in culturally appropriate facilities, and increasing their levels of physical activity we expect to see overall health improvements.

“If we can consider the cultural barriers to physical activity and design a sustainable programme by understanding these women’s motivations to join in physical activity sessions, we believe our work could feed into national policy concerning the health of Britain’s minority groups.”

The study is being carried out by researchers in Loughborough University’s Centre for Global Health and Development in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS).