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The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Are Exercise Intervention Strategies Effective in Promoting Regular Exercise Among African American Women?

Empirical studies have indicated that African Americans are at risk for developing hypertension (Gillum and Hyattville, 1996; Albert et al, 2004). Equally, the past and current studies have also concluded that women in this population tend to exercise less. Most studies have provided very little information on why Black American women do not integrate regular exercise into their everyday lifestyle. Notwithstanding, several researches have attempted to summarise the existing knowledge about exercise intervention strategies to increase exercise among Black American women.

The lack of exercise among African American women might be attributed in part to the limitations in the knowledge about effective interventions to increase regular exercise. That said, there is an urgent need for healthcare professionals and medical organisations in assisting in developing effective strategies in order to promote regular exercise and to decrease the negative outcomes of hypertension among Black women

The objective of this paper is to review the literature of several exercise intervention strategies that have been applied to enhance the initiation, adoption, and maintenance of regular exercise among Black women living in the United States.

Upon completion of a comprehensive literature review, it was found that the intervention approaches yield dissimilar outcome in terms of the effectiveness for exercise promotion. For instance, three studies that specifically targeted diet and exercise behaviour showed considerable weight loss following intervention (Kumanyika and Charleston, 1992; Kanders 1994; Kaul and Nidiry, 1999).

On the other hand, an intervention that carried out heart rate, weight, and blood pressure measurements did not show any improvement in exercise behaviour (Sullivan and Carter, 1985). Interestingly, another intervention that applied similar measurements found significantimprovement in weight loss (Pleas, 1988).

The studies that included body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, or waist circumference measures also reported significant weight loss subsequent to intervention (Doshi et al., 1998; Lasco, et al.; 1989; McNabb, et al., 1997; McNabb et al., 1993; Nichols, 1995; Reames and Burnett, 1991). Oddly, one of the two studies that targeted only exercise behaviour found improvement in the control group, instead of intervention group (Lewis et al., 1993).

Although this review identified mixed outcomes, it appears that African American women can increase their regular exercise in response to a variety of intervention strategies. That said, the conflicting results clearly suggest that further research is much needed to find appropriate intervention schemes that encourage African American women to participate in regular exercise and to further increase exercise among those who do increase their exercises.


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Doshi, N., Hurley, R., Garrison, M., Stombaugh, I., Rebovich, E., Wodarski, L., & Farris, L. (1994). Effectiveness of a nutrition education and physical fitness training program in lowering lipid levels in the Black elderly. Journal of Nutrition for the Elderly. 13 (3) 23-33.

Gillum, R & Hyattville, Md. (1996). Epidemiology of hypertension in African American women. American Heart Journal, 131 385-395.

Kanders, B., Ullmann-Joy, P., Foreyt, J., Heymsfield, S., Heber, D., Elashoff, R., Ashley, J., Reeves, R., & Blackburn, G. (1994). The Black American Lifestyle Intervention (BALI): The design of a weight loss program for working-class African American women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 94(3), 310–312.

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Kumanyika, S., and Charleston, J. (1992). Lose weight and win: A church-based weight loss program for blood pressure control among Black women. Patient Education and Counseling, 19, 19–32.

Lasco, R., Curry, R., Dickson, J., Powers, J., Menes, S., & Merritt, R. (1989). Participation rates, weight loss, and blood pressure changes among obese women in a nutrition-exercise program. Public Health Reports, 104(6), 640–646.

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