Profiles of exercise participation by South African Indians residing in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Introduction: Evidence suggests that Indians are at a greater risk of developing chronic diseases due to their unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. The increased emphasis placed on exercise and diet in preventative regimens is altering related mortality and morbidity. Physical activity plays a role in the prevention of coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases which occur at a higher rate in inactive people. Despite the need for exercise to improve health, no study has examined the exercise profile of Indians in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, their exercise patterns and motivations regarding exercise. Aim: This study determined the patterns of exercise participation by Indians residing in KwaZulu- Natal (KZN). Methodology: A quantitative, descriptive, cross sectional survey was used in this study. The study was conducted at the Durban North Beach on selected weekends during August and September 2015. The target population was South African Indians. A convenience sample was used, that is, potential participants, who were at North Beach on the data collection days were approached with a request to participate in the study. Following the signing of an informed consent form, data was collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire. A total of 450 self-administered questionnaires were handed out and 411 completed questionnaires were received. Descriptive statistics in the form of frequencies, means and standard deviations were calculated. Relationships between two variables were determined using chi-squared tests, Fisher’s Exact test, Pearson’s correlation test, as appropriate. Odds ratios were calculated where relevant. A p value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: The mean age of respondents was 37.7 ± 13.7 years. The majority (70.1%) participants reported that they currently exercise. However, only 42.9% of the respondents were found to meet the international requirement of 150 minutes of physical activity per week. When unstructured physical activity, such as household and yard chores were added, the latter frequency increased to 45.3%. Physical activity levels were similar across all age groups, likewise, similar proportions of males and females exercised. The most common exercises performed included walking (45.5%) and jogging (25.3%). Gymnasiums (33.5%), public grounds (25.3%) and the beachfront (21.4%) were the most commonly used locations for physical activity. One third of these respondents reported their health conditions as their main reason for exercising and most were aware about the value of exercise. Respondents who did not exercise regularly cited time management for their lack of exercise. Conclusion: The prevalence of exercise among South African Indians is low, with less than half of the population being physically active. Interventions are required to make people aware of the benefits of physical activity in order to increase the prevalence of exercise in this population.