Results of a culturally tailored smartphone-delivered physical activity intervention among midlife African American women: Feasibility trial

Rodney P. Joseph, Barbara Ainsworth, Kevin Hollingshead, Michael Todd, Colleen Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Regular aerobic physical activity (PA) is an important component of healthy aging. However, only 27%-40% of African American women achieve national PA guidelines. Available data also show a clear decline in PA as African American women transition from young adulthood (ie, 25-44 years) into midlife. This decline in PA during midlife coincides with an increased risk for African American women developing cardiometabolic disease conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Thus, effective efforts are needed to promote PA among sedentary African American women during midlife. Objective: This study aims to examine the acceptability and feasibility of a culturally tailored, smartphone-delivered PA intervention, originally developed to increase PA among African American women aged 24-49 years, among a slightly older sample of midlife African American women aged 50-65 years. Methods: A single-arm pretest-posttest study design was implemented. In total, 20 insufficiently active African American (ie, ≤60 min per week of PA) women between the ages of 50-65 years participated in the 4-month feasibility trial. The Smart Walk intervention was delivered through the study Smart Walk smartphone app and text messages. Features available on the Smart Walk app include personal profile pages, multimedia PA promotion modules, discussion board forums, and an activity tracking feature that integrates with Fitbit activity monitors. Self-reported PA and social cognitive theory mediators targeted by the intervention (ie, self-regulation, behavioral capability, outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and social support) were assessed at baseline and at 4 months. Feasibility and acceptability were assessed using a postintervention satisfaction survey that included multiple-choice and open-ended questions evaluating participant perceptions of the intervention and suggestions for intervention improvement. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to examine pre- and postintervention changes in the PA and social cognitive theory variables. The effect size estimates were calculated using the Pearson r test statistic. Results: Participants increased moderate-to-vigorous PA (median 30 minutes per week increase; r=0.503; P=.002) and reported improvements in 2 theoretical mediators (self-regulation: r=0.397; P=.01; behavioral capability: r=0.440; P=.006). Nearly all participants (14/15, 93% completing the satisfaction survey) indicated that they would recommend the intervention to a friend. Participants' suggestions for improving the intervention included enhancing the intervention's provisions of social support for PA. Conclusions: The results provide preliminary support for the feasibility of the smartphone-based approach to increase PA among midlife African American women. However, before larger-scale implementation among midlife African American women, enhancements to the social support components of the intervention are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere27383
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • Exercise
  • MHealth
  • Minority health
  • Mobile phone
  • Physical activity
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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