Most people know that one of the keys to reducing or preventing health problems is to get more exercise, but determining how to best integrate physical activity into their daily lives and having access to exercise programs remains a significant hurdle to clear on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
Wanda Thompson, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of NursingCamden, is taking a closer look at how African American women and girls living in urban areas perceive physical activity. Thompson recently presented her research, "What Black Mothers and Daughters Say about Being Physically Active," at an Obesity Society conference in Atlanta in November.
"Many members of the black community already have a very positive body image, which is a good thing, but it can have its drawbacks when it comes to their perception of physical fitness," Thompson says.
The RutgersCamden nursing scholar says it is recommended that children up to age 18 participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day, but a large percentage of African American females are failing to meet the objective.
"Looking at data among black adolescent girls, 42.1 percent were not getting enough exercise in 2007, and the number jumped to 43.6 percent in 2009," she says. "By not being active, children increase health risk factors. If you're physically fit, you're less likely to have heart, muscular, and joint problems."
Thompson, who worked as a nurse practitioner at the Durham County Health Department in North Carolina for more than 10 years, says she often observed girls in their late teens or early twenties who already had health problems like elevated blood pressure and showed signs of diabetes.
"These are girls whose health conditions are only going to worsen as they get older," she says. "It's increasingly important to encourage them to participate in more preventative activities from an early age."
By conducting various interview
|Contact: Mike Sepanic|