Indigenous Health & Wellness

The Indigenous Health and Physical Activity Program at UBC is dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples via healthy lifestyle behaviours. The Indigenous Health and Physical Activity Program has roots that began in the province of Alberta with the work of Drs. Warburton and Bredin and with its formal adoption in 2000 at UBC.

This transdisciplinary research and community outreach program has reached over 350 Indigenous communities and more than 15,000 Indigenous community members. Throughout the years, our program has involved more than 50 Indigenous trainees leaving a lasting legacy throughout Canada. Indigenous and non-Indigenous trainees from across Canada and departments at UBC have participated in our community outreach programming. We are extremely proud of the influential roles that these graduates continue to play in Indigenous health and wellness in Canada and beyond. We are also honoured to be founding members of the Indigenous Studies in Kinesiology education program (School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Education) at UBC.

We work extensively with organizations and Indigenous leaders committed to supporting healthy lifestyle behaviours in Indigenous communities. Our research is participatory in nature, with Indigenous leaders playing central roles in the design and implementation of our community-based initiatives. Therefore, Indigenous leaders and other key knowledge users are involved throughout our projects from the development of the questions of primary importance to the knowledge translation of our findings. We work from a strengths-based perspective building upon the aspirations and innate strengths of each community.

We are honoured to have several research trainees that are dedicated to the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples. We welcome and encourage students of Indigenous descent to apply for graduate studies in our program. There are various funding opportunities for our graduate trainees. Our trainees have published several influential works contributing greatly to our understanding of the optimal means of improving the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples. Here are some examples of this work. 

The Indigenous Health and Physical Activity Program is a collaboration involving leading experts in Indigenous health from across Canada and the world including Dr. Rosalin Miles (Lytton First Nation and UBC), Former Chief and Elder Gail Sparrow (Musqueam Indian Band), Chief Janet Webster (Lytton First Nation), Dr. Jan Hare (UBC), Dr. Moss Norman (UBC), Dr. Leanne Petherick (UBC), Dr. Heather Foulds (University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Paul Oh (University of Toronto), Jonathan Aitken (Emily University of Art & Design), Dr. Sheldon Tobe (University of Toronto and Northern Ontario School of Medicine), Dr. Ryan Rhodes (University of Victoria), and Dr. Paul Whitinui (University of Victoria; Aotearoa, New Zealand).

Recent Graduate Theses

Henry Lai (2020). Co-creation of a strengths-based approach to improve cardiometabolic health: a community-based and Indigenous led healthy lifestyle intervention. Publisher University of British Columbia.

Amanda de Faye (2018). Examining the effectiveness of a community-based physical activity intervention on health-related physical fitness in Indigenous adults. Publisher University of British Columbia.

Heather Foulds (2014). Cardiac and vascular dynamics in persons of Aboriginal descent. Publisher University of British Columbia.

Heather Foulds (2010). Community-based physical activity and the risk for cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal Canadians. Publisher University of British Columbia.

Publications Emanating from the Indigenous Health and Physical Activity Program

  • Warburton DER, Foulds HJA, Charlesworth S, Rhodes RE and Bredin SSD. The importance of physical activity interventions in Aboriginal children. Health & Fitness Journal of Canada 2008;1(1):9­13.
  • Foulds HJ, Bredin SS, Warburton DE. The effectiveness of community based physical activity interventions with Aboriginal peoples. Prev. Med. 2011;53:411-416 doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.09.008 PMID: 21983587
  • Foulds HJ, Bredin SS, Warburton DE. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in British Columbian Aboriginal adults. Obes Rev. 2011;12:e4-e11 doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2010.00844.x PMID: 21382152
  • Foulds HJ, Bredin SS, Warburton DE. The relationship between hypertension and obesity across different ethnicities. J Hypertens. 2012;30:359-367 doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e32834f0b86 PMID: 22236971
  • Foulds HJ, Bredin SS, Warburton DE. An evaluation of the physical activity and health status of British Columbian Aboriginal populations. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 2012;37:127-137. doi: 10.1139/h11-138. PMID: 22269025
  • Foulds HJA, Bredin SSD, Warburton DER. The relationship between diabetes and obesity across different ethnicities. Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism 2012;3:228. doi: 10.4172/2155-6156.1000228
  • Foulds HJ, Bredin SS, Warburton DE. Greater prevalence of select chronic conditions among Aboriginal and South Asian participants from an ethnically diverse convenience sample of British Columbians. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 2012;37:1212-1221. doi: 10.1139/h2012-110. PMID: 23176527
  • Foulds HJ, Warburton DE, Bredin SS. A systematic review of physical activity levels in Native American populations in Canada and the United States in the last 50 years. Obesity Reviews 2013;14(7):593-603. doi: 10.1111/obr.12032. PMID: 23577646
  • Foulds HJ, Shubair MM, Warburton DE. A review of the cardiometabolic risk experience among Canadian Métis populations. Can J Cardiol. 2013;29(8):1006-13. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2012.11.029. PMID: 23465285
  • Foulds HJ, Warburton DE. The blood pressure and hypertension experience among North American Indigenous populations. Journal of Hypertension. 2014;32(4):724-34. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000000084. PMID: 24609208
  • Foulds HJ, Bredin SS, Warburton DE. Ethnic differences in the vascular responses to aerobic exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;47(2):280-8. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000423. PMID: 24977697
  • Tobe SW, Maar M, Roy MA, and Warburton DE. Preventing cardiovascular and renal disease in Canada’s Aboriginal populations. Can J Cardiol. 2015;31(9):1124-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2015.05.024. PMID: 26321434
  • Foulds HJ, Bredin SS, and Warburton DE. The vascular health status of a population of adult Canadian Indigenous peoples from British Columbia. J Hum Hypertens. 2016;30(4):278-84. doi: 10.1038/jhh.2015.51. PMID: 26063562
  • Foulds HJA, Bredin SSD, and Warburton DER. Ethnic differences in the cardiac responses to aerobic exercise. Ethn Health 2017:1-14. doi:10.1080/13557858.2017.1315377 PMID: 28438042
  • Foulds HJA, Bredin SSD, and Warburton DER. Ethnic differences in vascular function and the relationship with blood pressure. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2018;109(3): 316–326. doi: 10.17269/s41997-018-0076-z PMID: 29981097
  • Foulds HJA, Bredin SSD, and Warburton DER. Cardiovascular dynamics of Canadian Indigenous Peoples. International Journal of Circumpolar Health doi: 10.1080/22423982.2017.1421351 PMID: 29405888
  • Lai HPH, Miles RM, Bredin SSD, Kaufman KL, Chua CZY, Hare J, Norman ME, Rhodes RE, Oh P, Warburton DER.”With Every Step, We Grow Stronger”: The Cardiometabolic Benefits of an Indigenous-Led and Community-Based Healthy Lifestyle Intervention. J Clin Med 2019;8(4). doi: 10.3390/jcm8040422 PMID: 30934802
  • Warburton DER, Bredin SSD. Health benefits of physical activity: A strengths-based approach. J Clin Med 2019;8 doi: 10.3390/jcm8122044 PMID: 31766502
  • Warburton DER, Bredin SSD. Cardiovascular health benefits of physical activity: Time to focus on strengths. Cahiers de Nutrition et de Diététique 2021;56(1):40-50. doi: 10.1016/j.cnd.2020.12.001

*the majority of these works represent trainees working under the supervision of Drs. Bredin and Warburton. Funding for this work was provided to Drs. Bredin and/or Warburton.

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