Who Struts Her Stuff? A Study of Women, Race, Income and Exercise

Identifying environmental, policy, and psychosocial factors important for designing culturally appropriate physical activity programs for women

In 2002, researchers at seven universities expanded a CDC-funded study about the factors that affect the physical activity levels of racially and ethnically diverse women.

The results of the complete study will be used to develop and test a model of the determinants of physical activity.

Key Activities

Under the grant, the researchers:

  • Increased the overall sample size of the survey to 4,122.
  • Added urban Latina women to the sample.
  • Resurveyed 8 percent of the sample population to test the reliability of the survey.
  • Divided the samples into three levels of physical activity, based on the recommendations of the CDC and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Key Findings

The researchers reported the following findings in a special supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, available online:

  • Women who were younger and in better health were most likely to report engaging in physical activity.
  • Women who were very confident of their ability to exercise were up to five times more likely to be active than were women with low self-confidence.
  • Knowing people who exercise and attending religious services were the only social environmental factors significantly associated with physical activity, but the correlation was not always positive.
  • With the exception of safety from crime, no physical environmental factors were consistently related to physical activity.
  • When asked what changes in their community or workplace would facilitate exercise, the respondents most often suggested more and better facilities and more group programs.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $387,929 in funding from January 2002 to March 2003 to support the expansion of the survey.