Background: Although regular physical activity is recommended for all adults and is vital in the management of diabetes, activity levels among African Americans with diabetes continue to be sub-optimal. The factors influencing physical activity in this group have not been well examined.
Research design and methods: Physical activity levels were assessed in 186 African Americans with type 2 diabetes in an urban inner-city community in 4 daily domains; leisure-time physical activity, episodic vigorous activity, blocks walked, and stairs climbed. Linear and logistic regression techniques were used to identify factors independently associated with physical activity levels.
Results: A minority of both men (40%) and women (29%) reported engaging in regular physical activity for the purpose of exercise. Women walked significantly fewer blocks/week compared to men (17 vs 41, P < .05). Independent predictors of low physical activity were obesity, lower household income, and the self-perception of being more active than one's counterparts. A predictor of higher physical activity was the perception of needing to get enough exercise to keep healthy. There was no association between physical activity level and other characteristics, including the perception of oneself as overweight or trying to lose weight.
Conclusions: These data suggest that, among our sample of African Americans with diabetes, many do not engage in regular activity, women walk significantly less than men, and weight loss efforts may not commonly include physical activity. Obesity, lower income level, and confidence about activity levels may identify individuals with lower physical activity levels. These data should be useful for developing targeted and culturally appropriate interventions to promote physical activity in this high-risk community.