Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Jennifer Biggs Miller


Physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Immigrants and people of low income are at a higher risk for physical inactivity. Lack of familiarity with exercise equipment, facility costs, safety, transportation issues and winter weather have been identified by Somali immigrant populations as barriers to physical activity.

The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of an apartment-based exercise program on the quality of life (QOL), activity level, and general strength of a community dwelling population comprised primarily of elderly Somali immigrants.

An exercise program was offered to residents at a subsidized apartment building. Monthly exercise sessions included strength, balance, stretching, aerobic activity, and an educational component. Outcomes at baseline and following the six month program included: the abbreviated World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL-BREF), General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPPAQ), and Five Times Sit to Stand Test (FTSST). Interview sessions were completed at the end of the six month program.

Of the 12 subjects that completed the informed consent process, eight subjects completed baseline measurements. Three subjects participated in one (of six) exercise sessions. Those three subjects completed the outcome measures and attended a brief interview session after the exercise program was completed. Although the number of participants limited statistical analysis, the trend of these three participants demonstrated no change in physical activity level for two subjects, while one subject increased physical activity. Functional strength improved in two participants and decreased in another. QOL outcomes were inconsistent except for the environmental domain, which decreased for all participants. Qualitative analysis of the interviews revealed that participants valued physical activity and logistical considerations such as: timing, frequency, content and communication about the exercise program were important factors for participation. Life events and procedural requirements of the program were noted as barriers.

Despite initial interest in the exercise program, participation in the sessions was low which limited analysis of activity level, quality of life and functional strength outcomes. Qualitative outcomes demonstrated that participants value physical activity and program timing and content should be carefully considered prior to initiation of future programming.