Complexity of Exercise Behavior Among Older African American Women

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $76.00

1 year subscription

USD  $101.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $144.00

2 year subscription

USD  $189.00

Despite the exercise benefits, disparities among diverse older adults continue to exist, where African American women have the lowest percentage of any population group in meeting national recommended activity guidelines. Drawing on the philosophical tradition of phronesis (practical reasoning) introduced by Aristotle, we studied perceptions of the exercise value among 14 older African American women. Three themes included: (1) exercise goals (e.g., effort exerted), (2) exercise reasons (e.g., health benefits, enjoyment and convenience, and activity recommendation), and (3) inactivity reasons (e.g., health issues, lack of motivation, and family responsibilities/priorities). Although most women reported being active, only three participants met the Healthy People 2020 guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, while two individuals were inactive. Exercise promoters should consider the values that motivate older African American women to exercise, such as the provision of accessible, nondiscriminatory exercise facilities, and not to exercise, such as concerns about neighborhood safety, in designing programs.

Kosma and Hondzinski are with the School of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA. Buchanan is with the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, MA.

Address author correspondence to Maria Kosma at mkosma@lsu.edu.
  • Airhihenbuwa, C.O., & Liburd, L. (2006). Eliminating health disparities in the African American population: the interface of culture, gender, and power. Health Education and Behavior, 33, 488–501. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Allison, D.B., Edlen-Nezin, L., & Clay-Williams, G. (1997). Obesity among African American women: prevalence, consequences, causes, & developing research. Women’s Health: Research on Gender, Behavior, and Policy, 3, 243–274. PubMed

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alvesson, M., & Skoldberg, K. (2009). Reflective methodology: New vistas for qualitative research (2nd ed.). London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aristotle. (1962). Nichomachean ethics (M. Ostwald, Trans.). Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

  • Beckles, G.L., & Truman, B.I. (2013). Education and income—United States, 2009 and 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(3), 9–19. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6203a3.htm?s_cid=su6203a3_w

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Blake, H., Mo, P., Malik, S., & Thomas, S. (2009). How effective are physical activity interventions for alleviating depressive symptoms in older people? A systematic review. Clinical Rehabilitation, 23, 873–887. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bourdieu, P. (1994). Practical reason. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

  • Bowen, P.G., Eaves, Y.D., Vance, D.E., & Moneyham, L.D. (2015). A phenomenological study of obesity and physical activity in Southern African American older women. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 23, 221–229. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101. doi:

  • Buchanan, D.R. (2000). An ethic for health promotion: Rethinking the sources of human well-being. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, D.R. (2004). Two models for defining the relationship between theory and practice in nutrition education: is the scientific method meeting our needs? Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 36, 146–154. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cairney, J., Faulkner, G., Veldhuizen, S., & Wade, T.J. (2009). Changes over time in physical activity and psychological distress among older adults. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54, 160–169. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. (1994). PAR-Q & you. Gloucester, Canada: Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

  • Cardinal, B.J., & Cardinal, M.K. (2000). Preparticipation physical activity screening within a racially diverse, older adult sample: comparison of the original and revised physical activity readiness questionnaires. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71, 302–307. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). How much physical activity do adults need? Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chodzko-Zajko, W.J., Proctor, D.N., Fiatarone Singh, M.A., Minson, C.T., Nigg, C.R., Salem, G.J., & Skinner, J.S. (2009). American college of sports medicine position stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 41, 1510–1530. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Collins, M. (2009). American idle: A journey through our sedentary culture. Sterling, VA: Capital Books.

  • Dulin-Keita, A., Clay, O., Whittaker, S., Hannon, L., Adams, I.K., Rogers, M., & Gans, K. (2015). The influence of HOPE VI neighborhood revitalization on neighborhood-based physical activity: a mixed-methods approach. Social Science and Medicine, 139, 90–99. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ekblom, Ö., Ekblom-Bak, E., Rosengren, A., Hallsten, M., Bergström, G., & Börjesson, M. (2015). Cardiorespiratory fitness, sedentary behaviour and physical activity are independently associated with the metabolic syndrome, results from the SCAPIS pilot study. PLoS One, 10(6), 0131586. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Exercise is medicine: a global health initiative. (2016). Retrieved from http://exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php?p=113

  • Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. (2016). Older Americans 2016—key indicators of well-being. Retrieved from https://agingstats.gov/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fitzgerald, J.T., Singleton, S.P., Neale, A.V., Prasad, A.S., & Hess, J.W. (1994). Activity levels, fitness status, exercise knowledge, and exercise beliefs among healthy older African American and white women. Journal of Aging and Health, 6, 292–313. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making social science matter: why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Flyvbjerg, B. (2004). Phronetic planning research: theoretical and methodological reflections. Planning Theory and Practice, 5, 283–306. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Folstein, M.F., Folstein, S.E., & McHugh, P.R. (1975). “Mini-mental state”: a practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 12, 189–198. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Folstein, M.F., Folstein, S.E., McHugh, P.R., & Fanjiang, G. (2001). Mini-mental state examination: MMSE user’s guide. Odessa, FL: Psychology Assessment Resources.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Freiberger, E., Menz, H.B., Abu-Omar, K., & Rütten, A. (2007). Preventing falls in physically active community-dwelling older people: a comparison of two intervention techniques. Gerontology, 53(5), 298–305. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology and other essays (W. Lovitt, Trans.). New York, NY: Harper.

  • Housing Assistance Council. (2012). Poverty in rural America. Retrieved from http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/research_notes/rrn_poverty.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kafle, N.P. (2011). Hermeneutic phenomenological research method simplified. Bodhi: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 5, 181–200. doi:

  • Kelly, C.M., Baker, E.A., Brownson, R.C., & Schootman, M. (2007). Translating research into practice: using concept mapping to determine locally relevant intervention strategies to increase physical activity. Evaluation and Program Planning, 30, 282–293. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kosma, M., Buchanan, D.R., & Hondzinski, J. (2015). The role of values in promoting physical activity. Quest, 67, 241–254. doi:

  • Kruger, J., Carlson, S.A., & Buchner, D. (2007). How active are older Americans? Preventing Chronic Disease, 4(3), 1–12.

  • Mathews, A.E., Laditka, S.B., Laditka, J.N., Wilcox, S., Corwin, S.J., Liu, R.Logsdon, R.G. (2010). Older adults’ perceived physical activity enablers and barriers: a multicultural perspective. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 18, 119–140. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maultsby, P.K. (2000). Africanisms in African American music. In F. W. Hayes (Ed.), A turbulent voyage: Readings in African American studies (3rd ed., pp. 156–176). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Merriam, S.B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education.San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Morey, M.C., Sloane, R., Pieper, C.F., Peterson, M.J., Pearson, M.P., Ekelund, C.C.Cohen, H.J. (2008). Effect of physical activity guidelines on physical function in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 56, 1873–1878. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

  • Price, A.E., Greer, B., & Tucker, A. (2013). Older black women’s experiences initiating and maintaining physical activity: implications for theory and practice. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 21, 348–366. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Renie, D.L. (2012). Qualitative research as methodical hermeneutics. Psychological Methods, 17, 385–398. PubMed doi:

  • Richardson, L.D., & Norris, M. (2010). Access to health and health care: how race and ethnicity matter. The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, 77(2), 166–177. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sanderson, B., Littleton, M., & Pulley, L.V. (2002). Environmental, policy, and cultural factors related to physical activity among rural, African American women. Women and Health, 36, 75–90. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sayer, A. (2011). Why things matter to people: Social science, values and ethical life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Sebastião, E., Chodzko-Zajko, W., & Schwingel, A. (2015). An in-depth examination of perceptions of physical activity in regularly active and insufficiently active older African American women: a participatory approach. Plos One, 10(11), e0142703. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shephard, R.J. (1994). Readiness for physical activity. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest, 1, 1–8. PubMed

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • U.S. Census Bureau. (2015). Poverty: poverty thresholds. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2016a). Physical activity guidelines—chapter 5: active older adults. Retrieved from http://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter5.aspx

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2016b). Healthy people, 2020, topics and objectives—physical activity. Retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/physical-activity

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • van Manen, M. (1997). Researching lived experience: human science for an action sensitive pedagogy (2nd ed.). London, Canada: The Althouse Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilcox, S., Oberrecht, L., Bopp, M., Kammermann, S.K., & McElmurray, C.T. (2005). A qualitative study of exercise in older African American and white women in rural South Carolina: perceptions, barriers, and motivations. Journal of Women and Aging, 17(1–2), 37–53. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Health Organization. (2016). Health topics—physical activity. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/topics/physical_activity/en/

  • Yosso, T.J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8, 69–91. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 51 51 6
Full Text Views 6 6 0
PDF Downloads 4 4 0