Laboratoire d’Investigations sur les Mécanismes et Prédicteurs de liens entre Activités physiques, autres Comportements et Trajectoires de Santé

AVEnir – Bringing an Evidence-Based Community Physical Activity Program to Francophone Minorities in New Brunswick: Can We Fit the Brain with Physical Activity



Compared to Anglophones, more Francophones living in NB are over 65 years old, present low levels of education, are considered physically inactivity, have a low socio-economic status, and have poor access to primary healthcare. As such, it has been documented that older adults living in mainly Francophone regions of New Brunswick have worse general health profiles (physical and cognitive) than those of people in mostly English-speaking regions. Sustainable prevention and management strategies delivered in rural settings, where Francophone seniors live, are therefore needed to address health disparities between French older adults living in rural settings and their Anglophone counterparts. Improvements in healthy living behaviours, such as uptake of a regular physical activity program are generally associated with improvements in physical function, mental health, and improvements in cognition in older adults. In New Brunswick, access to such physical activity programs is of particular concern for seniors who are Francophone as they are more likely to live in rural settings and to accumulate multiple chronic conditions. A logical target for addressing these inequities is to facilitate an uptake of physical activity among Francophone seniors living in rural regions of New Brunswick. Targeting this behaviour therefore has the potential to help overcome the physical and cognitive challenges faced by Francophones living in a rural setting.


The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Engage partners and community members in the development and delivery of a 16-weeks ‘community-tailored’ physical activity program in underserved rural francophone regions (Village de Memramcook)
  2. Adopt an inclusive approach to encourage and facilitate engagement of community members from underserved groups, who can take part in a physical activity program
  3. Understand the role of a community physical activity program on physical and cognitive well-being in francophones (males and females) living in rural NB.


Principal Investigators: Saïd Mekari and Martin Sénéchal

Co-Investigators: Jonathon R Fowles and Jalila Jbilou


O’Brien, M.W., Bray, N.W., Quirion, I. et al. Association between changes in habitual stepping activity and cognition in older adults. Sci Rep 14, 8003 (2024).

Funding Agency

This project is supported by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and Research NB.