By Lauren Sydoruk

South Asian and Middle Eastern women living in Western Australia will now have the opportunity to benefit from a new Curtin University-led program that aims to improve their overall physical fitness and wellbeing.

The South Asian and Middle Eastern Women Being Active (SAMBA) program will be led by Professor Jaya Dantas, from the School of Public Health, and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Nikos Ntoumanis, from the School of Psychology, at Curtin University.

The culturally sensitive program, which will run once a week, will include activities such as dance and information sessions with the aim of helping women become more active and establishing a sense of identity and belonging in their WA community.

Professor Dantas said the program was designed to target women who are currently not engaging in enough physical activity, but would like to be more active.

“The major causes of death and disability in both developed and developing countries are non-communicable diseases including obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Previous research suggests that the South Asian population are some of the least physically active adults and require special considerations when developing interventions or programs to support them,” Professor Dantas said.

“South Asian and Middle Eastern women are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion and this impacts on their health and wellbeing. Our previous research has looked at what helps and prevents women from doing physical activity and how women can overcome the things that stop them from being active.

“Participation in physical activity programs can help women feel part of the community, positively impacting their physical and mental health. We hope this program will help South Asian and Middle Eastern women in WA increase their physical activity, reduce sitting time, and improve their motivation for physical activity and psychological wellbeing.”

Professor Ntoumanis said it was important to develop programs that supported South Asian and Middle Eastern women to be more active in a culturally appropriate way.

“By talking with the women in the program and gaining a better understanding of their cultural background and history, we aim to identify the main reasons that prevent South Asian and Middle Eastern women from taking part in physical activity and try to help them overcome these,” Professor Ntoumanis said.

The SAMBA project is supported by an intervention grant from Healthway. The program is currently open for recruitment and will commence in January 2020.

Further information on the program can be found online here.