The Meaning and Cultural Context of Physical Activity as Perceived by Physically Active Rural African American Women

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Allison Lenkerd (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Sloane C. Burke

Abstract: Background - The health problems of overweight and obesity are growing concerns in the United States and in many parts of the world. At the time of this study African American women had the highest mortality and obesity rates of any other racial/ethnic group in this country and the highest level of physical inactivity (CDC 2008; OMHRC 2007). Research has suggested that despite African American women's awareness of the benefits of physical activity their rates of physical activity have remained low. A need existed to understand how physically active African American women particularly those who resided in a rural area perceived and experienced physical activity. Objective - The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the meaning and cultural context of physical activity among physically active rural African American women and to understand how they related physical activity and overweight to their health status. Methodology - To achieve this purpose the researcher conducted 4 in-depth open- ended focus group interviews in North Carolina. A qualitative methodology using a phenomenological approach enabled the researcher to better understand the meaning and sociocultural influences that the participants associated with physical activity participation. Analysis of verbatim transcriptions of the focus group interviews involved immersion coding categorizing and identifying themes that emerged from the data. Results - Several primary themes emerged from the data from this study that revelaed the participants experience of physical activity. These themes included perceptions of personal health the evolution of physical activity body image and overweight social support barriers societal views of African American health status and health related education. This chapter explored themes and various subthemes in order to get a more in-depth view of the participants' experience of physical activity and definitions of physical activity and overweight as they relate to health in the minds of the participants. Conclusion - Health education programming aimed at this target population group must recognize several factors in order to provide culturally appropriate programs: the motivating factors of this population group; the association between size overweight and health; their perception of what types of physical activities are appropriate; their support needs; the barriers that they face. In addition it is important to provide education regarding their risks as well as information on how to get the information that they need to address these risks from their medical provider. 

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Education, Health, Kinesiology, African American studies
African American women--Health and hygiene
Overweight women--Health and hygiene
Obesity in women--Health and hygiene
Rural African Americans--Health and hygiene
African American women--Attitudes
Rural African Americans--Attitudes
Exercise--Psychological aspects

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