The Perceptions of Physical Activity in the Somali Community of the Twin Cities of Minnesota [University of Minnesota, Twin Cities]


  • Sumaya Hassan Noor University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Fahima Osman University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Sarah Reddy Tummala University of Minnesota, Twin Cities



Twin Cities, Minnesota, Public Health, Community Health, Physical Activity, Somali Community.


This qualitative research investigates the perceptions of physical activity held by Muslim Somali men and women in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Following the civil war in Somalia in the early 90s, Minnesota received a large influx of Somali-identified people who eventually formed the largest Somali community in the country. As members of this community, we have observed the wide array of beliefs in how Somali people view physical activity and its importance. Little information exists in the literature about the physical activity levels of Somali-identified people since most of this health information is categorized by race. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in Spring 2018 with participants recruited from local college campus’, mosques, and community centers. Questions probed at how factors such as age, gender, and immigration status impact physical activity. A total of eighteen adult participants were interviewed, eight males and ten females. Data analysis of transcripts included data reduction, conclusion drawing, and verification, using at least two independent reviewers at each stage to protect against bias. Preliminary results demonstrate that most participants conveyed that their religion and culture promote health, but may hinder rates of physical activity. Results also show that changes in lifestyle between Somalia and the US have a direct effect on the decreased rates of physical activity. Immigrant participants listed a different set of needs upon coming to the United States, and physical activity did not rank highly on that list for most. Implications for practice will be discussed, including the need for culturally relevant health promotion as a means of adaptation into the westernized culture and the need for interventions that allow students to incorporate physical well-being with their studies.


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Author Biographies

Sumaya Hassan Noor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Human Physiology BA student, UMN College of Liberal Arts

Fahima Osman, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Neuroscience BS student, UMN College of Biological Sciences



How to Cite

Noor, S. H., Osman, F., & Tummala, S. R. (2019). The Perceptions of Physical Activity in the Somali Community of the Twin Cities of Minnesota [University of Minnesota, Twin Cities]. Journal of Student Research.