A lack of single sex gyms and personal trainers could be contributing to members of the British Asian population suffering from knee pain and bone problems by putting them off getting fit, according to a consultant surgeon.
Amir Qureshi, a knee and limb reconstruction surgeon based at University Hospital Southampton (UHS), said a “multitude of factors” were responsible for Asian people suffering from knee problems.
But he said that barriers for some Asian people to access gyms and persons because of a lack of single-sex facilities could be a contributing factor.
And he is calling on Asian community groups, councils, fitness providers and healthcare experts to improve education and opportunities.
Mr Qureshi said the Active Lives Survey showed that 25% of people aged 16 years and over in England were categorised as “physically inactive” – taking part in less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week – in 2017-18.
He said that people from Asian, black and other ethnic groups were more likely to be physically inactive than those from the white British, white other and mixed ethnic groups.
Mr Qureshi said: “A lot of Asian people suffer from knee pain and bone problems.
“There are a multitude of factors behind this, and I want the Asian society to begin tackling these so we can not only improve the health and fitness of Asian people but also relieve pressure on healthcare services.”
He added: “Accessing exercise facilities or classes remains problematic and the tendency can be to not do anything due to these barriers – having a negative effect on health.
“This can be due to some cultures and religions needing single sex gyms and same sex personal trainers, so I would certainly encourage more ethnic minority personal trainers to help combat this.
“I would also like to see fitness providers, community groups and councils work together to think about how we can deliver ethnically-sensitive sessions to cater for the Asian population who might otherwise go on to develop various health problems.”
Mr Qureshi said an interim solution was to ensure Asian people take up exercise at home.
He said: “We are where we are at the moment, so it makes it even more essential to highlight the importance of exercising at home or in their local area – jogging, walking, park sports, cycling – to maintain muscle and functionality.
“This extends to people of all ages and comes at no monetary cost either, so it is a cost-effective and simple measure to ensure that, while all of the necessary provisions may not be in place to meet the specific needs of Asian people, they can still take action independently.”
Mr Qureshi added that the long-established issue of a lack a vitamin D caused by reduced exposure to sunlight through skin and nutritional aspects such as the use of unleavened bread (chapatis) was also a “significant problem”.