Physical activity (PA) is beneficial to people of all ages and ethnicities. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of multiple chronic diseases, improve mood and sleep and allows your body to function better overall (CDC, 2018). However, populations that are more vulnerable to adverse health risks may benefit more than others from regular physical activity. This study was designed to identify the motivating factors for physical activity in a sample of older, African-American women of lower socioeconomic status (SES). This particular subgroup was chosen because of their increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease due to unhealthy lifestyle factors, specifically low levels of PA. (CDC, 2017). A secondary aim of this study was to determine the essential components necessary to create a successful PA program within this population. By determining the feasibility and acceptability of a PA program to target this specific population, further PA programs can be designed to promote adoption and sustainability of PA in this high-risk population. This study consisted of 8 African-American women of lower SES at an average age of 65 and average BMI of 32 kg/m^2 . The participants volunteered to participate in an 8-week exercise program for this study. The exercise class lasted 45 minutes and consisted of light aerobics, weight training, and mobility/flexibility exercises. After the 8 weeks, the participants were given questionnaires, surveys and participated in a focus group to collect data about their experiences. The Hebni staff and exercise instructors observed that there was 100% attendance and compliance throughout the 8 weeks. They also noted that the participants had positive attitudes and stayed actively engaged throughout the classes. After reviewing the data, it was noted that the necessary components to a successful exercise program for this population was a sense of community, cultural considerations, a community and familiar setting, and a reliable and open-minded instructor. The data showed that 100% of the participants continued participating in PA outside of the program and felt less stressed after exercising. This study is unique and important in that it looks at physical activity and its motivating factors in this population versus the ample research that focuses on why this population is sedentary but offers no solution to the problem.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Garcia, Jeanette


Valdes, Anna


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences

Degree Program

Sport and Exercise Science


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Public Health Commons