Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name


First Advisor

Dr. Bo Shen







March 2018

Advisor: Dr. Bo Shen

Major: Kinesiology

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

Overview: In the United States, adult engagement in physical inactivity has decreased since the implementation of the 2008 PA guidelines. In 2013, only 20% of Americans met the PA recommendations. In 2014, research showed that 23% of adults did not engage in any leisure PA in the United States (U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 2016). In general, females were found to be less active than males from youth through adulthood (Matthews et al, 2007). With research showing women are less active than men, it is important to take a more in-depth look at this population and its subsets. Research has shown that ethnic minorities, such as AA and Hispanic women, are less active than white women (Wilcox, Castro, King, Housemann & Brownson, 2000). Research also revealed that AA women have the lowest levels of PA and over 50% of AA women participate in less than 1 hour of PA per week and only 20 minutes of MVPA (Cowie et al, 1993; Felton et al, 2002; Troiano et al, 2007).

Currently 18 million adults between the ages of 18-24 are enrolled in college in the United States (Fountaine et al, 2011). Collegiate students’ levels of PA are not higher than the general population. According to the American College Health Association 21.6% of collegiate students were overweight and 12.5% were classified as obese (American College Health Association, 2011). In a 2016, the American College Health Association (ACHA) found that only 20.5% of college student reported participation in moderate aerobic PA between 5-7 days a week. Male collegiate students are more physically active than female collegiate students (Buckworth & Nigg, 2004; Keating, et al, 2005) and overall, only 18% of collegiate students engage in PA five or more days a week (Fountaine et al, 2011). Currently there is an abundance of literature focused on PA levels of AA females in urban areas; however, most of this work concentrates on youth in grades kindergarten-12th and populations 35 years old and up (Garcia et al, 1995; Martin et al, 2011) (Felton et al, 2002; Harley et al, 2002). There is not much research on AA collegiate women’s PA levels and what antecedents or determinants for PA engagement may exist.

Improving collegiate students’ PA levels is a major concern, as studies uncovered that the PA patterns of college seniors continue into their adulthood (Keating et al, 2005, CDC, 2009). It is estimated that nearly 81-85% of adults keep the same PA behaviors they practiced during their senior year of college (Todd, Czyszczon, Carr, & Pratt, 2009, Driskell, Goebel, & Kim, 2005). While college campuses can be a great beacon for shaping PA, there is not enough research illustrating how much of an impact this environment has on this population. The purpose of the study is to examine AA collegiate women’s intention and actual PA participation and how their perceptions of cultural and gender identify influence their decision making about PA participation.

Methods: Both Quantitative and Qualitative approaches were explored when collecting data for the current study. 97 AA Collegiate women were recruited from an Urban University during the spring and fall semesters of 2017. Participants completed online self-report surveys measuring physical activity participation, campus environment variables, neighborhood environmental factors and motivation/intention. 31 of the 97 participants volunteered to participate in focus groups to discuss cultural and environmental factors that influence their perception and decisions to engage in physical activity.

Findings: A multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine the influence the study variables had on participants PA engagement. Participants attitude, perceived behavioral control and neighborhood environment significantly influenced participants PA participation. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that participants attitudes toward PA were dependent upon their current level of PA, time restraint was the biggest barrier to PA engagement for this population and body image and media portrayal were major cultural influences on perception and participation of PA for AA collegiate women.

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Kinesiology Commons