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

    • August 1, 2003

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.