Digital health trackers, Indigenous women and participation in physical activity: What’s the fit?
Maxwell, H and O'Shea, M and Stronach, M and Pearce, S, Digital health trackers, Indigenous women and participation in physical activity: What's the fit?, Leisure Studies Association Conference, 9-11 July, Dundee, UK (2019) [Conference Extract]
Drawing on a strengths-based empowerment approach and the Indigenous tradition of ‘yarning’, this research explores how digital health technologies can contribute to Indigenous women’s increased levels of physical activity (PA). While people have long regulated their bodies, traditionally through the use of diaries and weight scales the use of digital technologies to self-track one’s bodily states, processes and activities is expanding. No previous studies have addressed how digital health tracking technologies influence PA among Indigenous Australian women. This research contributes to an under researched area of health promotion concerned with understanding the social, narrative and affective facets of individuals’ practices and experiences using digital health technologies. The research question is: How can wearable technologies enhance the experiences and outcomes of physical activity among Indigenous women? The research team consisted of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women who worked with a group of eight Indigenous Australian women from an Indigenous College in Sydney, Australia, from July to October 2018. Following the study’s theoretical and methodological framework the practice of self-designed physical activity programs was employed. Individualised activity and health goals underpinned the study’s approach, and each participant decided how best to achieve her goals with the assistance of the health tracker. The participants self -managed their experience in a culturally safe and appropriate manner. They tracked their physical activity by wearing a digital health tracker and diarising their activity types, amounts, experiences and thoughts across an eight-week period. Key findings emerging from the research include intersections between the use of digital health trackers and Indigenous women’s enhanced health literacy, increased motivation for activity and lifestyle choice. Discussions around the quantitative self, governance by micro nudge and health trackers increasing power and agency for the women arose from the data.
digital health tracker, physical activity, Indigenous health