Changing levels of physical activity in UK South Asians

What we know about the physical activity of South Asians

Research combining all the available literature has shown that South Asians living in South Asia are not very active. This is also true for South Asians living in the UK, and is particularly true for women.

In fact, South Asians are some of the least active people in the UK. South Asian people have high levels of heart disease and diabetes, which could be partly related to low physical activity levels.

What my research was aiming to find out

Most of the research in the UK has focused on older people or migrants (1st generation), but around 50% of the South Asian population in the UK were born in the UK. They are 2nd generation South Asians.

I systematically reviewed the literature to find out:

What does the physical activity of 2nd generation UK South Asians look like? Is it higher, lower or the same as the 1st generation?

Has anyone looked into what influences activity in 2nd generation South Asians?

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What my paper showed

I found that the 2nd generation are more active than the 1st generation, BUT the South Asian 2nd generation are still less active than the White British population (who are also inactive by the way).

There were some studies done that had explored physical activity levels in 2nd generation children and very few of these for 2nd-generation adults.

When I looked for studies investigating the reasons behind why 2nd generation South Asians are more physically active, I found that they were almost non-existent. I went on to explore that more in my PhD.

You can read the research paper here. The abstract gives you the main information, in a little more detail than on this post.

Why does this matter?

If physical activity levels have improved in this population, understanding why will help us develop strategies to continue this trend. Crucially, it also might provide important lessons for improving the activity levels for the rest of the population too.


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