A team of University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health researchers collaborated with others on campus to determine the effectiveness of activity interventions in African American women. This team from the school included Dr. Dori Pekmezi, associate professor in the department of health behavior, along with doctoral students, Mr. Cole Ainsworth, Ms. Taylor Holly and Ms. Victoria Williams, and alum Ms. Kaiying Wang.
African American women report low participation in physical activity and are disproportionately burdened by related conditions (obesity, breast, and colon cancer). Physical activity interventions have shown promising results among African American women, but most studies in this area have focused on short-term increases. More enduring changes in health behavior will be needed to eliminate existing health disparities.
Thus, the current study examined 12-month physical activity and psychosocial outcomes from a pilot randomized controlled trial (N = 84) of a Home-based Individually tailored Physical activity Print (HIPP) intervention for African American women in the Deep South. Retention was 77.4 percent at 12 months. HIPP participants increased self-reported moderate-to-vigorous physical activity from 35.1 minutes/week (standard deviation [SD] = 47.8) at baseline to 124 minutes/week (SD = 95.5) at 12 months, compared with the wellness contact control participants who reported increases from 48.2 minutes/week (SD = 51.3) to 102.5 minutes/week (SD = 94.5) over 12 months (between-group p > .05).
Results indicate that modest improvements in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and related psychosocial variables occurred during the active intervention phase (months 0-6) and were sustained during the tapered maintenance period (months 6-12). Low-cost, high-reach, home-based strategies have great potential for supporting sustained participation in physical activity and achieving long-term health benefits among African American women in the Deep South.