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African American Women's Experiences with Physical Activity in their Daily Lives


  • Mary A. Nies Ph.D., R.N., FAAN,

  • Michael Vollman M.S.N., R.N.,

  • Thomas Cook Ph.D., R.N.,

  • Mary A. Nies is an Associate Professor, Michael Vollman is a Lecturer and Doctoral Student, and Thomas Cook is an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, School of Nursing, Nashville, Tennessee.

Address correspondence to Mary A. Nies, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, School of Nursing, 84 Victoria Park, Nashville, TN 54302.


Sedentary behavior is a major public health problem for African American women. A qualitative study used focus groups to explore African American women's experiences with physical activity in their daily lives. Women aged 35–50 were recruited to participate in the focus groups. Transcripts from the focus groups were coded and analyzed. African American women's facilitators of physical activity were daily routine, practical and convenient activities, personal safety, child care, weight loss, stress reduction, knowledge and commitment, enjoyment, pets, family and peer support, home and work facilities, and daylight and climate conditions. Barriers to physical activity were lack of child care, no person to exercise with, competing responsibilities, lack of space in the home, inability to use exercise facilities at work, lack of motivation, fatigue, and unsafe neighborhood. This information will provide the basis for generating new strategies to increase physical activity for African American women in the community.