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Information increases exercising

Immigrants get information about sports and exercise facilities in Oulu from Exercise Info (Liikuntainfo). The attendants are sent there by a nurse.

Since this spring, the sports instructors of the City of Oulu have arranged information sessions for immigrants about exercising. The first groups got together in May.

The info sessions help, for example, to find suitable kinds of sports or exercise facilities.

– We give information for instance about how to use indoor swimming pools and other facilities, sports instructor Virpi Markuksela says.

– Our focus is on the pleasure of exercising. The aim is not always even to raise a sweat, because often even a small increase in exercise helps to improve your wellbeing, says physiotherapist Mirka Isoniemi, who works with Markuksela.

The info sessions last for an hour each and are held at the Multicultural Centre Villa Victor, separately for women and men. You are sent to Exercise Info by a nurse, usually because you have a musculoskeletal problem that would benefit from more physical activity.

Markuksela and Isoniemi emphasise that the info session instructors consider cultural differences. While supporting the immigrant’s health, the sessions also support his or her integration.

– Cultural differences also influence how freely men and women can attend hobbies. We want to encourage people to exercise and be more active in their everyday lives, Isoniemi says.

The sports instructors have noticed that women take responsibility of running the everyday family activities in some immigrant communities.

– Women especially need the Exercise Info and we’ve been pleased to see that equal numbers of men and women have attended the sessions, Markuksela says.

Markuksela and Isoniemi agree that is understandably difficult to increase your level of exercise if you are not familiar with the sports facilities. It can be difficult to get to know them for instance because of inadequate language skills.

Rihab Al-Baroudi, who moved recently from Raahe to Oulu, says that the info session made her more curious and willing to move more actively.

– I have practically always been with my children and never alone. It is very important to me both physically and mentally to have my own time for physical exercise.

She says that she would not have heard of many sports facilities in Oulu, if she had not attended the info session.

– It was difficult to find information on my own, since even the different types of exercise were new to me.


Text Juha-Pekka Honkanen,
translation Päivi Brink


Multicaltural Centre Villa Victor webpages