Date of Conferral





Health Services


Earla White


Insufficient physical activity detracts from healthy living and has a disparate impact on African American women and their female children. The extensive body of prior research addressing preventable chronic disease and other consequences of insufficient physical activity includes limited information specific to African American single mothers. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to gain an understanding of African American single mothers' perceptions of physical activity. Specifically investigated were African American women's familial influences and potential effects of these influences on their children's health behaviors. The health belief model served as the theoretical framework for this study and provided a contextual lens to explore research questions to elicit African American single mothers' perceptions of physical activity. Six African American single mothers participated in semistructured interviews that produced data for this study. Use of Colaizzi's data analysis method revealed thematic single mother reports of healthy lifestyle, social support, resources/education, body/self-image, stress management, fear and embarrassment, motivation/inspiration, and injury/illness as factors affecting their engagement in physical activity. Future research opportunities include exploring multilevel interventions specific to African American single mothers and using common weight-related terminology. Study findings could benefit health educators, administrators, and providers. Positive social implications include improved physical activity and health outcomes for African American single mothers with ultimate decreased health care costs for the U.S. society.