African-American Women in Alabama Give Tips on What Will Get Them Moving

From January 2000 through June 2002, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham studied the factors that promote physical activity among rural African-American women in Wilcox County, Ala.

Findings were added to a separate, six-site study funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that explored the barriers and enablers of physical activity among urban African-Americans, rural Hispanics, urban Native American women and rural white women.

Overall results from the CDC study, called Special Interest Study #5 (SIP-5), will be used to develop and test a model of the determinants of physical activity.

Key Findings

From six focus groups, made up of 61 rural African-American women, ages 20 to 50, in Wilcox County, Ala., the investigators categorized the following barriers to, and enablers of, physical activity:

  • Personal factors, including motivation, perceived health, feelings of being tired and lack of time.
  • Social environmental factors, including support from friends, family issues and childcare.
  • Physical environmental factors, including weather, access to facilities and the availability of sidewalks or other places to walk.
  • Policy factors, including personal safety concerns (such as unleashed dogs and traffic) and inflexible work environments.
  • Some cultural differences related to socioeconomic levels and time demands.


Suggestions for social, environmental, and policy changes that would encourage physical activity in the community, included:

  • Offering classes, work exercise programs and group events.
  • Providing child care and transportation.
  • Creating sidewalks, trails and other dedicated areas for walking.
  • Building community centers, ball fields and golf courses.