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J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2002 Apr;11(3):239-53.

Correlates of physical activity among women from diverse racial/ethnic groups.

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School of Public Health, Prevention Research Center, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri 63104, USA.



Women have lower rates of participation in leisure time physical activity than men and have been studied to a lesser extent than men. Because physical activity plays a vital role in overall health, it is important to identify factors than can help increase physical activity rates for women.


Defining and understanding correlates of physical activity is critical for at-risk populations and for planning effective interventions. This paper reviews research conducted in the past two decades on correlates of physical activity in women. An ecological model with an added physical environment component was used to organize the correlates. Studies conducted among adult white, black, American Indian, Asian, and Hispanic women are included. A total of 91 studies were reviewed. Many studies included white women, fewer studies included black and Hispanic women, and even fewer included American Indian women, and only 3 studies included Asian women.


The correlates most studied are sociodemographic variables, with nonwhite race, lower educational levels, and older age most consistently associated with lower levels of physical activity. Few studies focused on environmental and policy correlates. Social support was an overwhelmingly positive determinant of physical activity for all groups of women.


Based on these findings, we recommend that future research include more diverse groups of women and evaluate modifiable factors, such as psychological, interpersonal, and environmental correlates. Future research also should include more intervention and longitudinal studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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