Knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to physical activity among Native Americans with diabetes

Lisa M. Stolarczyk, Susan S. Gilliland, Deborah J. Lium, Charles L. Owen, Georgia E. Perez, Andrea M. Kriska, Barbara E. Ainsworth, Janette S. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: Native Americans (NA) have higher diabetes morbidity and mortality compared to other ethnic groups. Although exercise plays an important role in diabetes management, little is known about exercise among Native Americans with diabetes. Our goal was to describe knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to exercise in Native American participants in New Mexico. Design: Bilingual community members administered a questionnaire to assess knowledge, stage of change (a measure of exercise readiness), and physical activity behavior. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) was measured by DCA 2000 analyzer. Height and weight were measured to calculate body mass index (BMI). Average random blood glucose (RBS) levels and diabetes duration were assessed through chart audit. Setting: Questionnaires were completed in offices in or near the communities. Participants: 514 Native Americans with diabetes were identified as potential participants, 40% (142 women, 64 men) participated. Results: 37% of participants knew exercise lowers blood sugar. 82% reported they were in the preparation, action, or maintenance stage of change for exercise behavior. Seventy seven percent of this population did not meet the Surgeon General's recommendation for accumulating 30 minutes of leisure time endurance exercise on most days of the week. However, 67% of participants fell within the "high activity" category for all moderate and vigorous activities. Average age, BMI and HbA1c were 58.5 yrs., 30.5 kg/ m2, 8.6%, respectively. Conclusions: Interventions to increase physical activity awareness and participation could improve diabetes management and overall health for Native Americans. When evaluating physical activity, researchers need to consider usual activities of daily living and leisure time activities specific to that population. Failure to do so would be ethnocentric and could lead to inappropriate conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Fitness
  • Native Americans
  • Type 2 Diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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