AJHE Table of Contents
Investigating Exercise Readiness and Life Stress among Undergraduate Students at an Historically Black University
The experiences and challenges of college provide students with opportunities to explore new pursuits that
can form the foundation of lifelong healthy choices. A college education has the potential to increase income
and access to health care. Logically, the expectation is
that college students should strive to be healthy; but
other factors such as exercise, life stress, and demographics may play a role in health outcomes.
Obesity and overweight are leading health concerns
that contribute greatly to chronic illnesses and conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes,
respiratory disease, and musculoskeletal disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, non-Hispanic Blacks (49.6%) have the
highest obesity rates adjusted for age. Overall, among
young adults (aged 20– 39 years) in the United States, the prevalence of obesity is 40% with Black males at
37.5% and females at 56.1%. In the state of Alabama,
the adult obesity rate for African Americans is greater
than 35% and contributes to significantly higher risk
diabetes and cardiovascular disease in this population.
Also, according to the American Heart Association, African Americans experience the highest rate of hypertension in the United States.
Additionally, exercise and physical activity are key
factors in the prevention and reduction of obesity and
overweight. Physical inactivity accounts for approximately
25% of all breast cancers, colon cancers, and diabetes, and
30% of heart disease cases. Physical activity is defined as
bodily movement that requires energy expenditure and
use of skeletal muscles. Exercise is a type of physical
activity that is structured and purposeful such as running,
biking, jumping rope, dancing, and lifting weights. The
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minute of
vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week for adults.
Vigorous to moderate regular exercise has been associated
with reduced risk of high blood pressure among the Black
population. However, only half of all Americans, and
more specifically only one-third of Black women, meet
the national guidelines for exercise.
To read the rest of this article, click here to download a pdf.