Physical activity and smoking: gender comparisons among older African American adults

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1996 Aug;7(3):232-51. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2010.0617.


Little effort has been expended on the examination of systematic health risk behaviors among adult African Americans by gender. Using data from the national Health and Retirement Study (HRS), this article compares differences between male and female physical activity and smoking behaviors of African Americans aged 50 to 61. The analysis highlights a clear pattern of socioeconomic differences with current male smokers, who are more likely to be unmarried and in the lower income and educational levels. Among women, the relationship between smoking patterns, income, and education is less definitive and consistent. Our findings, confirmed by earlier studies, indicate that the largest percentage of the study population, both male and female, are not engaged in any form of regular physical exercise. Thus human service providers must be more attentive to gender and sociodemographic differences in smoking habits and patterns of physical activities to tailor policies and programs accordingly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Age Factors
  • Education
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation