Document Type



The purpose of this investigation was to examine differences in fitness-related variables due to ethnicity among female teachers in a large urban school district. As part of a comprehensive employee health promo­tion program, a multicomponent health and fitness baseline assessment was conducted on 1,967 women. Data were collected from a self-administered health and lifestyle questionnaire, body composition measures, submaximal treadmill stress test, and other clinical and blood chemistry measures. The entire female sample was divided into White (n= 1,316), Black (n=518, and Mexican American (n= 133) subgroups based upon self-reported ethnic identity. Univariate analyses revealed a significantly lower mean treadmill time for Black women (261.5 sec) than for White (322.7 sec) or Mexican American (320.8 sec) women (p<.0001). In an attempt to explain these ethnic differences, multiple linear regression was used. A significant rela­tionship between ethnicity and treadmill time (p<.0001) remained for Black females after adjustment for differences in age, % body fat, number of cigarettes smoked daily, self reported physical activity level, resting heart rate, and resting blood pressure among the three ethnic groups. We con­clude that Black women in this population have a significantly lower level of cardiovascular fitness relative to White or Mexican American women, and that these differences can be partially explained by ethnicity indepen­dent of the effects of other fitness related variables. These findings have important implications for worksite health promotion programs that target ethnically mixed populations of women.