Pimatisiwin

Perceived Wholistic Health and Physical Activity in Kanien’kehá:ka Youth

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Abstract

Although there has been a push to reduce the conceptual gap between Onkwehonwe and more universally accepted western measures of health, few culturally relevant measures are available that have been customized for use at the community level. The main purpose of this pilot study was to assess the relationship of perceived wholistic health with self-reported physical activity and television-watching in a sample of Kanien’kehá:ka youth (n=35) living in a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community. To do this we developed a culturally relevant measure of perceived wholistic health that was supported by the Onkwehonwe idea of balance as reflected in the symbolism of the Medicine Wheel. Results from the pilot study show that youth who live in balance tend to be more physically active and to watch less television during the week and on weekends compared to youth who do not live in balance. From a practice perspective, study findings suggest that there may be some merit to promoting physical activity and reducing television watching through interventions that nurture wholistic health or balance rather than taking a pure problem-based approach to prevention. Challenges remain, however, to operationalizing subjective concepts like wholistic health within a model of western science.

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