REASONS for LACK of EXERCISE in WOMEN OVER AGE 40
by Abby C. King, Ph.D., Cynthia Castro, Ph.D., Sara Wilcox, Ph.D.,
Amy A. Eyler, Ph.D., James F. Sallis, Ph.D. and Ross C. Brownson,
Psychologists Abby C. King, Ph.D., and Cynthia Castro, Ph.D., of Stanford
University School of Medicine, epidemiologist Ross C. Brownson, Ph.D.,
of St. Louis University and three other researchers collected data over
a one year period from an ethnically diverse sample of 2,912 white,
African American, Hispanic and American Indian-Alaskan Native women.
Only about nine percent of the study participants met the definition
of being regularly active, which is comparable to that of other studies
involving middle- and older-aged women. The American Indian-Alaskan
Native and African American subgroups in the study had the largest percentages
of women falling within the inactive category, 59 percent and 57 percent
For the sample as a whole as well as for one or more
of the racial-ethnic subgroups evaluated separately, being less educated
or older, lacking energy to exercise, reporting a lack of hills in one's
neighborhood, perceived poor health and infrequently observing others
exercising in one's neighborhood were associated with inactive lifestyles.
The finding that a lack of hills was a barrier to physical activity
was unexpected and surprising to the researchers. "It is possible,"
say the authors, "that hilly neighborhoods provide more interesting
scenery in which to undertake physical activity. An alternate explanation
is that undertaking physical activity in hilly neighborhoods increases
perceived effort, making such activity more salient and thus more likely
to be reported than physical activity on flat terrain."
duties were also identified as important barriers to physical activity
for women. Similar findings were also reported from a recent large European
study. The authors say these findings underscores the need to identify
the types of physical activity regimens that are most appropriate to
the caregiving situation.
The study also found that close to two-thirds
of the respondents from all four racial-ethnic subgroups and from each
of the three defined physical activity categories expressed a preference
for undertaking physical activity on one's own, with some instruction,
as opposed to in a group with an exercise leader. The researchers say
this finding "probably reflects the roles that convenience and flexibility
play in influencing people's physical activity choices."
Reference: "Personal and Environmental Factors
Associated With Physical Inactivity Among Different Racial-Ethnic Groups
of U.S. Middle-Aged and Older-Aged Women," Abby C. King and Cynthia
Castro, Sara Wilcox, Amy A. Eyler, James F. Sallis and Ross C. Brownson;
Health Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 4.