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Project summary: SAMBA: South Asian & Middle Eastern Women Being Active

The issue: Unfortunately, like many people, South Asian and Middle Eastern women often do not engage in enough physical activity to experience the associated benefits for their physical, social, and mental health. Women from South Asia and the Middle East may also find it more difficult to settle into the wider community due to a range of barriers and may not feel like they belong, which can further impact on their health and well-being.

Project summary: SAMBA was a culturally sensitive, collaboratively designed, and fun physical activity program especially for South Asian and Middle Eastern women. The study was developed through community-based participatory research with South Asian and Middle Eastern women in Perth. SAMBA explored what helps and what prevents women from doing physical activity, and how women can overcome the barriers that prevent them from becoming and staying active.


Relevance for policy/practice: The study helped to build collaborative networks among South Asian and Middle Eastern community groups, additionally the study also increased physical activity levels and reduced prolonged bouts of sedentary time amongst a population group that is traditionally not sufficiently active. Our study is one of the first in Western Australia to involve South Asian and Middle Eastern women in research that explores what helps and what prevents women participating in physical activity. The study has identified the multifaceted barriers to physical activity among South Asian and Middle Eastern women and has collected information on the interplay between health-conducive behaviours, social determinants of health, gender, and cultural issues. 

Who is involved? 

Chief investigator:

  • Jaya Dantas

Project team:

  • Adjunct Professor Nikos Ntoumanis, Dr Jonathan Hallett, Associate Professor Joanne McVeigh, Dr Shelley Gower, Ms Zakia Jeemi, Dr Nikita Bhavsar and Dr Jenny Olson

Partner community agencies:

Collaboration for Research, Evidence and Impact in Public Health (CERIPH), Department of Social Services: Families, Communities and Settlement Services, Office of Multicultural Interests, Consumer and Community Health Research Network, and Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Project funding: Healthway Intervention Grant

Ethics approval: Yes

Project progress: Completed

Project website 

Project outputs:

Community Report:

  • Dantas, J.A.R., McVeigh, J., & Jeemi, Z. (2023). SAMBA: South Asian & Middle Eastern Women Being Active Community Report. ISBN: 978-0-9945338-1-4.


  • Pullia A, Jeemi Z, Reina Ortiz M, Dantas JAR. Physical Activity Experiences of South Asian Migrant Women in Western Australia: Implications for Intervention Development. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(6):3585.


Olson, Ntoumanis, Jeemi, Gower, & Dantas (2019, June). South Asian Mothers and Children Being Active (SAMBA): A qualitative investigation of barriers and enablers to physical activity participation. Poster presented at the 2019 International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity annual meeting, Prague, Czech Republic.

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