Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

April 2021

Conference Location



PURPOSE:American Indians face a multitude of health disparities after a long history of relocation and intergenerational trauma. In order to alter these disparities, community based programs like the Fitness and Nutrition (FAN) program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC), have been developed to confront high rates of preventable disease in American Indian communities. In collaboration with MAIC, the purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on the self-reported physical and mental health of elders to guide program development. DESCRIPTION: A survey was created that inquired about physical and mental health both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. 115 surveys were distributed to MAIC elders during a community lunch distribution. OBSERVATIONS/RESULTS: There were 40 respondents to the survey. No significant difference was found in physical activity between pre-COVID reports compared to current reports. Between BMI classification groups, no significant difference was found in the impact on physical health, self-perceived rating of general health, or confidence in ability to be physically active. There was a significant difference in number of days per month impacted by mental health between BMI classification groups, with individuals classified as obese reporting 9.9 days per month of suboptimal mental health compared 1.2 days per month for individuals classified as normal BMI (p = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Self-reported amount of weekly physical activity did not significantly change during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-COVID amount. Individuals classified as obese based on BMI standards experienced significantly greater number of days per month with suboptimal mental health compared to individuals classified as normal BMI. IMPLICATIONS: Consistent physical activity during COVID could be related to the strong programming MAIC provides to its constituents. MAIC may want to target future programming to individuals with high BMI to mitigate the mental health impacts.