Attitudes of a Multiethnic Group of Immigrants towards Online Social Networking and Physical Activity

Results from Focus Group Discussions

  • Cynthia M. Ferrara University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Leland K. Ackerson University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Deirdra A. Murphy University of Massachusetts Lowell


Background and Purpose: Sedentary behavior contributes to the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. Increasing physical activity is particularly important for new immigrants to the U.S., since the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease increases with acculturation to U.S. society. This study examined facilitators and barriers of using social media to provide information on physical activity, perceptions of the benefits of physical activity, and barriers to physical activity in low English proficiency immigrants in a New England city. Methods: Three focus groups were conducted to collect information from 25 adults in a New England city (Mean= 47.7+13.2 year, 68% female, 64% Asian). Results: Participants reported using social media to connect with family and friends, rather than to make new social connections. Barriers to social media use included access and privacy concerns. While the participants believed physical activity was necessary for health, they identified a number of barriers to exercise, including lack of access to exercise facilities, financial issues, and information on safe and effective ways to exercise. Conclusion: Using social media may be a convenient way to provide information about physical activity to low English proficiency immigrants, but researchers need to address the barriers to utilizing social media and engaging in physical activity.

How to Cite
Ferrara, C. M., Ackerson, L. K., & Murphy, D. A. (2015). Attitudes of a Multiethnic Group of Immigrants towards Online Social Networking and Physical Activity: Results from Focus Group Discussions. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 13(2), 61-73.