Race and Exercise Engagement: Investigating the High-Calorie-Burning Activities of White and Black Collegiate Women

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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Previous research has documented the comprehensive health benefits of regular physical activity. However, just over a third of Black women report meeting the suggested amount of physical activity per week. Research also indicates that collegiate emerging adults often reduce their physical activity as well. Given that Black collegiate women represent the intersection of two groups that report a reduction in physical activity, the primary purpose of this descriptive study was to examine whether or not the rate of engagement in high-calorie-burning (HCB) activity by collegiate females differed by race. A secondary purpose was to explore how the chronic stress of racism for Black women was related to their HCB activity. Three hundred and eighty-three collegiate females between the ages of 18 and 25 (M = 19.67, SD = 1.45) participated; (61.1% [n = 234] self-identified as White, while the remaining 38.9% [n = 149] self-identified as Black). All eligible participants took a 10–15 min anonymous online survey. Results from a chi-squared analysis (χ2 [1] = 8.40, p = .004) revealed that White collegiate women (70.3%) were more likely to report participation in weekly HCB activity than Black collegiate women (55.7%). Additional analyses also suggested that chronic experience with racism (F [1, 147] = 5.13, p = .03) was associated with more frequent HCB activity for the Black women sampled. Campus health promotion campaigns should not overlook how the experience of race may shape health behaviors for their racial minority students and sustain emerging health disparities.

Longmire-Avital is with the Department of Psychology and the African & African-American studies program, Elon University, Elon, NC. Madzima is with the Department of Exercise Science, Elon University. Bierut is also with Elon University.

Address author correspondence to Buffie Longmire-Avital at bavital@elon.edu.
Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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