Physical Activity; Exercise; Internet; Website; Social Cognitive Theory; African American Women


Background. African American women report low levels of physical activity (PA) and are disproportionately burdened by related chronic diseases. This pilot study tested a 6-month theory-based (Social Cognitive Theory, SCT) culturally-relevant website intervention to promote PA among African American female college students.

Materials and Methods. A single group pre-post test design (n=34) was used. PA and associated SCT constructs (outcome expectations, enjoyment, self-regulation, social support) were assessed at baseline, 3 months and 6 months.

Results. The sample was comprised of mostly obese (M BMI= 35.4, SD=6.82) young adults (M age= 21.21 years, SD=2.31). Fifty percent of the sample completed all assessments. Intent-to-treat analyses showed that participants reported a significant median improvement in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity from 82.5 minutes/week (M=81.76, SD=76.23) at baseline to 115.0 minutes/week (M=122.44,SD=97.93) at 3 months (Wilcoxon z=2.39, p=.02). However these gains appear to have attenuated by 6 months (Median= 82.5 minutes/week, M=96.73, SD=84.20; Wilcoxon z=1.02, p=.31). Significant increases from baseline to 6 months were found in self-regulation for PA (p=.02) and social support for PA from friends (p=.02). Changes in the SCT variables were not significantly associated with changes in PA; however, this may have been due to small sample size.

Conclusions. Future studies with larger samples and more aggressive retention strategies (e.g., more frequent incentives, prompts for website use) are needed to further explore the applicability of culturally relevant web-based approaches to promote PA in this at-risk population.