Descriptive epidemiology of physical activity in African-American women

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Objectives. We assessed walking for exercise and moderate and strenuous physical activity in relation to both demographic and health-related characteristics among African-American women from various parts of the United States who participate in the Black Women's Health Study. Methods. The data were collected in 1995 by mail questionnaire from 64,524 U.S. black women aged 21 to 69 years. The 64,101 women who provided data on physical activity are the subjects of the present report. Results. The present study revealed low levels of physical activity among the African-American women: 57% reported an hour or less per week walking for exercise, 18% reported moderate activity, and 61% reported strenuous physical activity. Strenuous physical activity increased with education. Higher levels of walking for exercise and moderate and strenuous activity were associated with higher levels of participation in strenuous exercise in high school. Conclusion. Physical activity levels are low in African-American women. Based on the findings of the present study it may be suggested that educational efforts to increase levels of physical activity should start at an early age. (C) 2000 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.

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