Maori men prefer culturally relevant fitness over gyms - study

Long Lunch 22/06/2018

A new study explores the reasons behind Maori men being disproportionately affected by lifestyle-related illnesses associated with sedentary behaviour.

The study’s author believes health messages should to be culturally relevant to get Maori men to incorporate exercise into their life.

Whanau usually comes first over, say, going to the gym.

Accord to AUT exercise physiologist Dr Isaac Warbrick, many of the study’s men didn’t exercise because it cut into family time or ensuring their children go to their after-school activities.

“So it was about priorities. And whanau usually comes first over, say, going to the gym,” Dr Warbrick told RadioLIVE. 

Dr Warbrick’s study explored the preferences and thoughts towards exercise of sedentary Maori men aged 30 to 70 years with a body mass index of over 25.

The men were found to prefer activities that offered a sense of camaraderie, like on a sports team, or where they could exercise with family or friends.

Using the study’s findings, Dr Warbrick told RadioLIVE that culture should be used as a driver for physical activity, rather than encouraging Maori men to simply opt in to the gym lifestyle.

“If we can reframe it so people can hey, go for a walk up up your maunga because that’s culturally significant to you rather than being in a gym where you’re running on a treadmill and not talking to anyone.

“Reframing the message I think is important.”

He also explained that there’s a common misconception that the gym requires a full hour, in a day and age where efficient high intensity interval training (HIIT) can allow adults to squeeze fitness into a busy day.

Mixing HIIT fitness with culturally relevant, group activities is going to offer the most success for Maori men, suggested Dr Warbrick. 

Listen to the full interview with Dr Isaac Warbrick above. 

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