Barriers to Physical Activity Among African American Women: An Integrative Review of the Literature

Rodney Joseph, Barbara Ainsworth, Colleen Keller, Joan E. Dodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


A key aspect for researchers to consider when developing culturally appropriate physical activity (PA) interventions for African American (AA) women are the specific barriers AA women face that limit their participation in PA. Identification and critical examination of these barriers is the first step in developing comprehensive culturally relevant approaches to promote PA and help resolve PA-related health disparities in this underserved population. We conducted a systematic integrative literature review to identify barriers to PA among AA women. Five electronic databases were searched, and forty-two studies (twenty-seven qualitative, fourteen quantitative, one mixed method) published since 1990 (range 1998–2013) in English language journals met inclusion criteria for review. Barriers were classified as intrapersonal, interpersonal, or environment/community according to their respective level of influence within our social ecological framework. Intrapersonal barriers included lack of time, knowledge, and motivation; physical appearance concerns; health concerns; monetary cost of exercise facilities; and tiredness/fatigue. Interpersonal barriers included family/caregiving responsibilities; lack of social support; and lack of a PA partner. Environmental barriers included safety concerns; lack of facilities; weather concerns; lack of sidewalks; and lack of physically active AA role models. Results provide key leverage points for researchers to consider when developing culturally relevant PA interventions for AA women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-699
Number of pages21
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 18 2015


  • African American
  • behavior
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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