Positive Outliers Among African American Women and the Factors Associated with Long-Term Physical Activity Maintenance

Amber W. Kinsey, Michelle L. Segar, Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, Melicia C. Whitt-Glover, Olivia Affuso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Studying positive outliers, individuals who have achieved success with long-term (> 6-month) physical activity (PA) engagement, may be an important approach for understanding strategies for improving leisure-time PA maintenance among African American (AA) women. This cross-sectional, mixed-methods study (1) examined the personal characteristics, PA patterns, and behavioral practices of positive outliers among AA women and (2) compared characteristics of those who maintain PA at recommended levels (HIGH, ≥ 150 min/week > 6 months) with those who maintain low PA volumes (LOW, < 150 min/week > 6 months). A large sample of positive outliers completed this study (n = 290), and most became physically active on their own (76.2%) . These AA women were committed to maintaining an active lifestyle, accumulated 249.7 ± 105.8 min of PA/week, and engaged in a variety of activities. Their behavioral practices included scheduling PA during the week (85.9%), goal-setting (82.4%), engaging in PA with others (55.9%), self-monitoring (78.3%), and having a backup plan for missed sessions (54.8%). HIGH maintainers (84.9%) made up most of the sample, and these women were characteristically similar to LOW maintainers with few differences. HIGH maintainers have been active longer, achieved higher commitment scores, and engaged in PA at a higher frequency, duration, and intensity, resulting in higher weekly PA volume compared to LOW maintainers (273.8 ± 96.1 vs. 114.4 ± 24.3 min per week, p ≤ 0.001). Our findings identify factors that may be important for successful PA maintenance among AA women and may help to inform the development of effective behavioral interventions to promote sustained, long-term PA engagement in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-617
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019



  • Black women
  • Coping planning
  • Exercise
  • Health disparities
  • Positive deviance

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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