Background: African-American women are at higher risk than white women of cardiovascular disease and stroke. In addition, fewer African-American women reap the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, because of low physical activity. The study goals were to identify personal, social environmental, and physical environmental correlates of physical activity of urban-dwelling, Midwestern, African-American women and to obtain their recommendations for increasing exercise in their communities. Methods: A face-to-face interview (Women and Physical Activity Survey) covering personal, social environmental, and physical environmental correlates of physical activity was administered to 399 volunteer African-American women aged 20 to 50 years, living in Chicago. Physical activity was measured with questions on lifestyle and planned leisure-time activity (exercise) from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Results: The women were from a wide socioeconomic spectrum of education and income. Forty-two percent of the women met current recommendations for moderate or vigorous physical activity; 48% were insufficiently active; and 9% were inactive. The following groups of women were more likely to be physically active: women with at least a high school education; women with perceived good health; women who knew people who exercise; and women who viewed the neighborhood as safe. These findings were statistically significant. Conclusions: Interventions that target urban African-American women must address the safety of the physical environment and personal and social environmental correlates of physical activity, and they should focus especially on inactive women who have less than a high school education or perceive themselves to be in poor health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health