Ethnic and socioeconomic comparisons of fitness, activity levels, and barriers to exercise in high school females

J Sch Health. 2006 Jan;76(1):12-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2006.00061.x.


The purpose of this study was to determine if high school females differed in individual measures of health-related physical fitness, barriers to exercise, or activity level based on ethnicity or socioeconomic status. A cross-sectional sample consisting of African American (28%), Hispanic (23%), and white (49%) female high school students, 46% from low socioeconomic groups and 54% from moderate or high socioeconomic groups (n = 1314, age = 16.2 +/- 0.9) participated in this study. A 15-question survey instrument assessed barriers to exercise and activity level. The FITNESSGRAM fitness test assessed aerobic capacity and body mass index (BMI), and skinfold calipers were used to assess percent body fat. Significant differences between African Americans, Hispanics, and whites were found on the following dependent variables: BMI, percent fat, mile run, perceived barriers to exercise, and activity level. Significant differences between socioeconomic groups were found on the following dependent variables: percent fat, mile run, activity level, and perceived barriers to exercise. These results suggest that students of minority and low socioeconomic groups should be given separate and different interventions regarding health-related fitness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Midwestern United States
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Psychometrics
  • Social Class*