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Type 2 diabetes is at least 4 times more common among British South Asians than in the general population. South Asians also have a higher risk of diabetic complications, a situation which has been linked to low levels of physical activity observed amongst this group. Little is known about the factors and considerations which prohibit and/or facilitate physical activity amongst South Asians. This qualitative study explored Pakistani (n = 23) and Indian (n = 9) patients' perceptions and experiences of undertaking physical activity as part of their diabetes care. Although respondents reported an awareness of the need to undertake physical activity, few had put this lifestyle advice into practice. For many, practical considerations, such as lack of time, were interwoven with cultural norms and social expectations. Whilst respondents reported health problems which could make physical activity difficult, these were reinforced by their perceptions and understandings of their diabetes, and its impact upon their future health. Education may play a role in physical activity promotion; however, health promoters may need to work with, rather than against, cultural norms and individual perceptions. We recommend a realistic and culturally sensitive approach, which identifies and capitalizes on the kinds of activities patients already do in their everyday lives.

Original publication




Journal article


Health Educ Res

Publication Date





43 - 54


Adult, Aged, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Exercise, Female, Humans, India, Interviews as Topic, Male, Middle Aged, Motivation, Pakistan, United Kingdom