Researching leisure and physical activity with women of color: Issues and emerging questions

K. A. Henderson, B. E. Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The roles of women in the United States are changing, along with the idea that being female is mitigated by a number of constructions such as race, class, age, income, (dis)ability, culture, and sexual orientation. Interest in understanding physical activity as leisure embodied in movement, exercise, fitness, recreation, and sports has increased because moderate to vigorous physical activity is associated with a lower risk for pre-mature death, some chronic diseases, and being overweight. Research from the Centers for Disease Control, however, has shown that fewer than 30% of minority women in the United States obtain sufficient amounts of moderate activity to derive physical and mental health benefits. The Cross Cultural Activity Participation Study was designed to measure physical activity habits in African American and American Indian women and to develop and validate a set of surveys to measure moderate physical activity. A qualitative component was included as part of the larger study to obtain additional information about the psychosocial context and sociocultural meanings of physical activity and perceptions of leisure. The process of data collection, analyses, and reporting the qualitative findings, as well as developing and validating quantitative measurement instruments, resulted in raising methodological issues about studying race and culture and theoretical concerns for future research. The purpose of this article is to retrospectively describe our research process and what we learned in undertaking it. If behavior changes, health improvement, and an enhanced quality of life are to be achieved, then researchers must continue to determine the best ways to examine the meanings that individuals attach to activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
JournalLeisure Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Constraints
  • Culture
  • Interpret ive research
  • Leisure
  • Physical activity
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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