Educational Attainment and Exercise Frequency in American Women; Blacks' Diminished Returns

Womens Health Bull. 2019 Jul;6(3):e87413. doi: 10.5812/whb.87413. Epub 2019 Sep 4.


Background: Minorities' Diminished Returns (MDRs) refer to smaller protects health effects of socioeconomic status (SES) indicators for Blacks and other minority groups than Whites.

Objectives: The current study aimed to explore Black- White differences in the association between educational attainment and exercise frequency among women in the US.

Methods: For the current study, we used the National Survey of American Life's (NSAL) data which included 3,175 women who were either White (n = 876) or Black (n = 2,299). The independent variable was educational attainment. The dependent variable was exercise frequency. Age, region, household income, financial distress, marital status, unemployment, and depression were the covariates. Race was the focal moderator. Linear regression was applied for data analysis.

Results: In the overall sample of women, high educational attainment was associated with higher exercise frequency (b = 0.07, 95% CI = 0.02-0.12). Race and educational attainment showed a significant interaction (b = -0.09, 95% CI = -0.19-0.00), suggestive of a smaller effect of education attainment on exercise frequency for Black women than White women. In race specific models, high educational attainment was associated with higher exercise frequency for White (b = 0.12, 95% CI =0.04-0.20) but not Black (b = 0.03, 95% CI = -0.03-0.08) women.

Conclusion: In line with the past research on MDRs, White women gain more health from their educational attainment than Black women. It is not race or class but race and class that shape the health behaviors of American women.

Keywords: African-American; Blacks; education; ethnicity; exercise; physical activity; population groups; race; socioeconomic status.