Development of a supervised exercise programme for immigrant women: Feasibility study of a practical intervention in a physiotherapy setting

J Rehabil Med. 2021 Jul 7;53(7):jrm00214. doi: 10.2340/16501977-2853.


Background: While Denmark is facing growing inequality between Danish women and immigrant women in relation to exercise and health, research on interventions and targeted exercise programmes is limited. This study aimed to test the feasibility of a physiotherapeutic supervised exercise programme for immigrant women.

Methods: Inspired by improvement research a programme was developed in cooperation with the immigrant women. The intervention was modified continuously according to the women's wishes and needs.

Intervention: Baseline focus-group interviews, completion of questionnaire and physical-strength tests, was followed by a 12-week supervised training period. After completion of the training the participants were re-interviewed and re-tested.

Results: Twenty-nine women were recruited to the training programme, and 10 attended follow-up. Mean body mass index was 34 kg/m2. Attendance rate among follow-up tested participants was 70%. The women gained knowledge about their bodies, a healthier lifestyle, and awareness of the importance of active living.

Conclusion: It was possible to recruit and maintain immigrant women in the exercise programme. This study demonstrated the importance of involving the women in the process, and revealed important factors, such as privacy, a local setting and trust in the physiotherapists.

Keywords: exercise; immigrant women; supervised training; wellbeing.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Denmark
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Exercise*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods*