Introduction: It is well known that Indigenous Australians have reduced life expectancy, and increased risk of chronic physical and mental conditions, than the non-Indigenous population. Increasing participation in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activities (MVPA), and reducing sedentary behaviours (SB) may assist with the prevention and management of chronic physical and mental conditions. However, little is known about the best ways to approach disease self-management and empowering urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to confidently take control of their health.
Method: The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) delivers Work It Out (WIO), a culturally safe exercise and education program within Indigenous Health Services across South East Queensland, called Work It Out (WIO). WIO consists of weekly exercise and health education sessions delivered by Allied Health professionals. In collaboration with IUIH, the Queensland Institute of Medical Research Berghofer (QIMR Berghofer) and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) are evaluating the program on participant physical and mental health outcomes. Physical health measures include metabolic indicators (waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose), and physical activity levels assessed using GENEActiv accelerometers. Mental health assessments were self-report questionnaires on depression, anxiety, stress, and community connectedness. Preliminary data and methodological considerations will be presented.
Results: This study fits within a broader evaluation of the WIO program comprising over 800 participants. In this study, 38 participants were recruited from two South-East Queensland sites. At baseline, average time spent in SB was 8.6 hours/day, and MVPA was 12 minutes/day. Mean baseline scores of depression, anxiety, and stress, were 4.8 (SD=5.0), 4.5 (SD=4.3), and 6.0 (4.5), respectively. Six participants completed post-intervention measures; there was a trend for improved mental health after the intervention.
Discussion: This is the first study to use accelerometry to assess physical activity in Indigenous Australians. Preliminary data indicate that culturally safe exercise and education interventions can improve health and wellbeing; however, the currently small sample size limits reliability of findings.