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  • Rosella Le

The Relationship Between Physical Activity, Culture and Socioeconomic Status

Edited by: Jasleen Sekhon

Socioeconomic statusthat describes one’s affluence within society, which is related to many factors, but not limited to, education, income and access to resources. Socioeconomic status is strongly correlated to low physical activity (PA), which is further related to the distribution of resources within society (1).

A study titled Physical Activity among Adults with Low Socioeconomic Status Living in Industrialized Countries: A Meta-Ethnographic Approach to Understanding Socioecological Complexities suggests that one’s level of PA is related to their accessibility to resources, such as transportation, parks, and recreation centres to support their PA participation (2);all of which can be connected to culture, time constraints due to long hours at work and access to affordable childcare. Moreover, having friends and family nearby may influence PA participation in those of low SES, especially in children as they may be reliant on having family members drive them to facilities (2).Lack of access to PA can be compounded with poor urban planning in some low SES communities with a high prevalence of one ethnic group placing that group at an even greater disadvantage. (2).

In addition, PA interventions have low impact in low SES communities as they are poorly designed. (2) For example, the marketing of PA programs in some local communities are negatively affected by delivery in a minimal number of languages and there are not enough resources to communicate the correct information to certain cultural groups in low SES communities (2).

Future Steps to Increasing PA in low SES Communities in Relation to Cultural Groups:

  • Ask community leaders to create friendly, nonprejudicial environments for community members to socialize to learn more about PA programs within their communities and it also aids in building greater trust within communities (2)

  • Provide a greater number free PA resources to low SES communities, that are tailored to the groups that live within those communities; whether that be language adjustments, or use of signage

  • With respect to low SES families, healthcare professionls should strive to be sensitive to the differences in cultural values, beliefs, and practices for a greater partnership between the family and healthcare professional when curating Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) (3)

Key Points

  • The greater one’s socioeconomic status, the greater their PA levels, which is significant when healthcare professionals consider creating IFSPs with low SES families (1,3)

  • There is an increased need for improved urban planning in low SES communities, which may have large ethnic specific communities, to increase their PA and quality of life


  1. Talaei M, Rabiei K, Talaei Z, Amiri N, Zolfaghari B, Kabiri P, Sarrafzadegan N. Physical activity, sex, and socioeconomic status: A population based study. ARYA Atheroscler. 2013 Jan;9(1):51-60. PMID: 23696760; PMCID: PMC3653259.

  2. Lal B. Rawal, Ben J. Smith, Henry Quach, Andre M. N. Renzaho, "Physical Activity among Adults with Low Socioeconomic Status Living in Industrialized Countries: A Meta-Ethnographic Approach to Understanding Socioecological Complexities", Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2020, Article ID 4283027, 13 pages, 2020.

  3. DeGangi GA, Wietlisbach S. The impact of culture and socioeconomic status on family-professional collaboration: Challenges.. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education [Internet]. 1994 Winter [cited 2021 Jul 28];14(4):503. Available from:

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