Exercise, Health, and Falls Risks among Older African American Women

Maria Kosma, Jan M. Hondzinski, David R. Buchanan


Background of Study: Although exercise has many benefits, older African American (AA) women are less active than older Caucasian women and older AA men. Balance and muscle-strengthening activities are typically recommended for decreased falls, whereas the role of aerobic training alone on falls prevention is controversial. Objective: This was a mixed methods phronetic (pragmatic) study – without an intervention – including quantitative data (falls risks) and qualitative data on exercise behavior and its importance to health and falls prevention; therefore, the studied phenomenon was thoroughly and pragmatically investigated. The first purpose of the study was to examine differences in falls risks based on exercise type (aerobics vs. combination of aerobics, muscle training, and balance activities) and exercise level (active people vs. somewhat active people). Secondly, participants’ exercise values were examined in relation to their health, falls-risk prevention, exercise behavior, and falls risks. Method: Interviews and falls risk assessments were conducted among 12 older AA women in an inner-city community center. Results: ANCOVA and ANOVA showed that the aerobics group performed better in Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) and Timed Up and Go than the combination group (d =0.85, -0.97); the latter surpassed the former in Functional Reach (d = 2.27). The active group (met the 150 minutes/week exercise recommendation) performed better in DGI and Six-Minute Walk than the somewhat active group (d =0.62.,50); the latter outperformed the former in balance-eyes open (d = -0.52). Emerging themes about lifestyle values included: a) reasons for health conditions and staying healthy and b) falls prevention. Conclusion: Exercise programs for fall risk reduction should include not only muscle strengthening and balance activities, but also aerobic exercises. Meeting minimum exercise recommendations is key to falls risk reduction. Beyond healthy diet, the role of exercise on the prevention of health conditions needs to be emphasized.


Exercise, Falls Risks, Health, Older African American Women, Phronetic Mixed-Methods Research

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijkss.v.5n.3p.16


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