This study assessed perceptions about exercise among a convenience sample of low-income, urban, older adult patients at a publicly operated ambulatory primary-care clinic, and results were then compared with the findings of a national study. Although it was expected that the predominantly minority and economically disadvantaged participants in this study would trail significantly behind their White counterparts in their perceptions and behavior regarding exercise, findings demonstrated otherwise. Specifically, when physicians encourage moderate exercise, when patients believe that they can overcome barriers to exercise, and when the environment supports moderate exercise through the availability of community exercise classes, inequities in health behaviors can be reduced. Interventions designed to increase exercise for this population should be developed with an understanding of the many barriers that they will have to overcome, a focus on building confidence, and communicating the many benefits of this behavior.
Bylina, Houser, Hurst, and Cox are with the Health and Exercise Science Program, Truman State University, Kirksville, MO 63501. Hu, Conway, and Perrin are with the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, Chicago IL.