Using a multi-year, cross-sectional, nationally representative database, we sought to characterize the PA preferences of the Canadian population of ethnic minorities and immigrants. Our primary finding was that, with the exception of Aboriginal groups, all ethnic minorities and immigrant groups were more likely to engage in conventional forms of exercise such as home-based exercise, aerobics, and weight training, when compared to Whites and non-immigrants, respectively. It was also found that all ethnic and immigrant groups were less likely to engage in walking, endurance exercise and recreation activities and were more likely to be physically inactive. These findings have implications for interventions targeting ethnic and immigrant Canadians, as most research has focused on culturally relevant activities such as tai-chi for Chinese or yoga for South-Asians, when conventional exercise seems to be a preferred activity.
Modes of Physical Activity by Ethnicity
The finding that ethnic minority groups in Canada are less physically active than Whites is consistent with previous research . However, the finding that all of these groups are more likely to engage in conventional forms of exercise such as aerobics, weight training, and home-based exercise is novel. Previous research has generally focused on overall PA levels rather than the specific modes of PA [7–12]. To our knowledge few studies to date have analyzed PA modes among ethnic minorities or immigrant groups. One of these was a study conducted in a group of older Canadian adults consisting of mainly Vietnamese, Cambodian, Polish, and Latin-American immigrants . In this study, walking was the most frequently reported PA among Latin Americans, followed by aerobics. Amongst the Polish sample the most prevalent activity was yard and house work. This study did not have a White comparison group and the sample size was small (n = 61), limiting direct comparison to the current investigation. Second, Floyd et al.  analyzed the different activity preferences of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans using U.S. census data from 1984 (n = 1469; terminology related to ethnicity has been preserved from the paper being referenced). Results indicated that two types of activities differed by ethnic background. Sport activities (bowling, basketball, and baseball) and associated-social activities (church activities, clubs, voluntary organizations, and parties) were reported more frequently by Blacks than Whites, leading the authors to conclude that there were more similarities than differences among the activity preferences of Whites versus Blacks in that sample. This is in contrast to the current findings which indicate that sports, exercise, and recreation activities were significantly different between Whites and all other ethnic groups, including Blacks and Latin Americans. These differences may be attributed to time (i.e. changes in PA patterns over the past decade), differences in composition of ethnic minorities in Canada and the United States, or differences in reporting methods. For instance, Floyd et al. asked participants to rank their preferred activities while the CCHS questionnaire prompts participants to list activities in which they engage.
A more recent study conducted by Chiang et al.  used focus groups and a qualitative analysis to gain an understanding of culturally preferred exercise programs in older adults who were immigrants of East-Asian descent, Spanish speaking immigrants, and Native Americans. In their sample, walking was again the preferred mode of PA among all groups. Other activities mentioned were stretching and tai-chi in the Cantonese group and dance and socializing in the Latino group. On this basis, the authors also concluded that there were more similarities than differences among ethnic groups. The present study found similar trends among ethnic groups but only in comparison to Whites. Therefore, these data support the finding that among ethnic minorities there are more similarities; however, when compared to Whites, there are distinct differences in PA preferences.
Physical Activity Modes by Time-Since-Immigration
While previous research has indicated lower PA levels among immigrants in Canada , to our knowledge, no population-based studies have assessed the variation of PA modes by time-since-immigration. The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute have reported rates of sport participation among Canadian immigrants; however, they did not include other modes of PA such as exercise, recreation or commute related PA. Nonetheless, these data suggest that individuals born in Canada are more likely to participate in sport than individuals born outside of Canada. Self-reported prevalence of sport participation was 35-40% amongst the Canadian-born sample. In contrast, those who immigrated before 1990 had participation rates of only 20% and recent immigrants had participation rates of approximately 25% . Our results are consistent with this report such that recent immigrants had a higher prevalence of sport participation compared to established immigrants; however, both groups were less likely to participate in sports than non-immigrants.
The odds for engaging in walking, endurance, recreation and conventional exercise were lowest among recent immigrants, followed by established immigrants. Although a temporal relationship can not be inferred from these data, these findings suggest a degree of acculturation among immigrants in Canada to the extent that the longer one lives in the country, the more likely they are to report higher levels of PA. Acculturation to PA participation and dietary habits of United States Asian and Hispanic immigrants has been documented . Additionally, research assessing the healthy immigrant effect in Canada indicates that the gap between immigrants and non-immigrants for risk of chronic diseases related to active lifestyles begins to narrow with time spent in the country , suggesting the same acculturation effect we observed. Although we did not assess chronic disease specifically, a similar and consistent narrowing gap between the various modes of PA (as seen in Table 1) between recent immigrants, established immigrants and non-immigrants was observed. Moreover, this finding is similar to that of Tremblay et al.  who found that the prevalence of total leisure-time activity (> 3.0 kcal/kg/day) is higher amongst longer-term immigrants in Canada.
Finally, it is important to mention that some sex differences were observed in our study. Previous research indicates that women are less likely to engage in PA in general, and that women in all ethnic groups are less active than males . Similarly, lower levels of participation in sports have been consistently noted when comparing Canadian males to females . Overall, males and females of the same ethnic or immigrant group had similar PA patterns in our study. However, there were noticeable differences among the West Asian group such that males had similar patterns for walking, endurance, conventional exercise, sports and active commuting as White males, while females were less likely to participate in all activities and were more likely to report no PA than White females.
Based on our findings, it is evident that interventions targeting ethnically diverse and immigrant Canadians should focus on conventional exercise as opposed to walking, sport, or endurance activities. An example of such an approach is the Exercise on Prescription program in the Netherlands which is currently assessing the impact of this program on a group of ethnically diverse women from low SES communities . This program consists of 20 sessions of supervised PA and assistance with organizing participation in various exercise activities such as aerobics, aqua-aerobics, dance, and sports. Based on the current results, this is precisely the type of program that may be preferred by this segment of the population; however, in order to create a culturally relevant delivery method and to optimize participation and adherence rates, PA interventions must be developed in consultation with members of each community. Previous research has shown that success of interventions depends on consideration of socio-cultural norms, attitudes, and beliefs . Additionally, as demonstrated in a recent study of insulin sensitivity in older Chinese adults, more conventional PA modes (e.g., resistance training) may lead to greater health benefits than some culturally specific exercises such as tai-chi .
Limitations and Strengths
There are some limitations to this analysis that should be noted. As the CCHS contains self-reported data it is susceptible to social desirability and misclassification bias. We also did not have information available on culturally-specific physical activities such as tai-chi or yoga as these preferences would have been captured as part of the "other activities" reported. Given that the CCHS is a cross-sectional survey, it is not possible to exclude the fact that differences between recent and established immigrants could be attributed in part to differential bias in PA reporting, the era of immigration , acculturation to social norms of PA, or other unmeasured factors . Finally, as the CCHS only assessed leisure-time PA, differences in occupational activity are unknown and may account for some of the observed differences in total energy expenditure by ethnicity and time-since-immigration. However, there are also several strengths to this analysis. First, we pooled three cycles of the CCHS, which produced a large sample size of ethnic minorities and immigrants. Second, we included a range of age groups in this analysis which produced generalizable results for adults over the age of 20 years, while previous research has focused primarily on ethnically diverse samples of older adults.