Date of Award

Summer 8-14-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr Bernice Yates


The purpose of this study was to describe the physical activity (PA) behaviors and PA biomarkers of prehypertensive and stage I hypertensive African American women (AAW) and to examine the relationships between PA and personal factors and selected behavior-specific influences (perceived barriers to and interpersonal support for PA). Pender’s Health Promotion Model was the conceptual framework for the study.

A cross sectional design and convenience sample were used. Personal factors examined were: systolic and diastolic blood pressure [BP], body mass index [BMI], and waist circumference. Other variables measured were: International Physical Activity Questionnaire, 400 meter walk test, Borg perceived exertion rating, Exercise Barriers scales, and Family and Friend Positive and Negative Support for PA. Women (n=47) were, on average, 49 (+14; 23-71) years of age, single, not working or retired, had some college education, annual incomes < $20,000, obese, and had a waist circumference of 39 inches. Spearman correlations were used to examine relationships among the variables; and effect sizes were used to interpret the correlations obtained (small = 0.10, medium = 0.30, and large = 0.50).

The activity domain where the greatest amount of effort (MET min/week) was spent was in work-related activity (M=1791+3042.6), household activity (M=588.4+180), leisure-time activity (M=583.3+198), and transportation activity (487.6+882). BP was not consistently related to PA behaviors or biomarkers. Greater BMI was related to greater work and leisure time activity, less transportation and household activity, more time to complete the 400-meter walk test, and a greater perceived exertion. Greater waist circumference was related to less transportation and household activity, longer time needed for the 400 meter walk test, and a significantly greater rating of perceived exertion (ρ = .40, p=.012). More barriers to exercise and barriers unique to African American women (sweating, hair maintenance) were associated with less work-related, transportation, and household activity. Greater family and friend support for PA were associated with more work-related, leisure time, and household activity. Future research in African American women needs to focus on BMI, waist circumference, barriers to PA, and family and friend support for PA as important variables associated with PA in this population.