Objective: More than 60% of African American adults do not meet recommendations for moderate physical activity. We sought to discover the extent to which health attitudes and beliefs are associated with leisure-time physical activity in this population.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: African American adults were asked about their health attitudes and beliefs during a national survey.
Participants: Participants were 807 African American men and women aged 18 years and older. Random-digit dialing was employed, sampling telephone numbers by geographical region, area code, and population size.
Main outcome measures: Participants were asked six health belief questions on the importance of exercise and body weight in health. Logistic regression was used to determine which of these factors were associated with physical activity participation.
Results: The percent of respondents participating in some form of physical activity during the past month was 87.1% in men and 82.9% in women. Factors associated with previous month physical activity in men were perceived personal importance of exercise (P < .001) and necessity of exercise for health (P = .018). In women, perceived personal importance of exercise (P < .001), necessity of exercise for health (P = .006), and having enough activity space (P = .017) were associated with physical activity participation.
Conclusion: Though the direction of causation is unknown, having the attitude that it is important to exercise or be physically active for health predicts physical activity participation in both African American men and women. Creating a sense of importance of physical activity to relieve stress and foster good health may stimulate physical activity participation in African American adults.