Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Dissertation (UNI Access Only)


African American women college students--Recreation; African American women college students--Health and hygiene; Physical fitness centers--Health aspects; Leisure--Health aspects;


In the United States (U.S.), the state of health for African American women is at greater risk than that of women of other races and ethnic groups. Debilitating health conditions are a growing concern in the African American community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2013), being overweight or obese, coupled with a lack of physical activity, are contributors to major health issues for U.S. African Americans, especially women. These and other conditions are factors in the declining state of health of U.S. African American women. Considering the seriousness of their overall state of health, there is a need to gain a greater understanding of the factors that constrain the participation of African American women’s leisure-time physical activity (LTPA). Few research studies have examined the constraints faced by African American women who attend a predominately White institution (PWI) in their efforts to engage in LTPA utilizing campus recreation services and facilities.

This study explored constraints to LTPA and use of campus recreation services and facilities encountered by African American women while attending a Midwestern PWI as undergraduate students. A qualitative retrospective ethnographical method was used to explore this topic (Merriam, 2009). The researcher composed an autoethnography and interviewed two African American women of parallel backgrounds on their experiences with constraints to LTPA engagement and use of campus recreation services and facilities as undergraduate students at a PWI. The racial/cultural identity development (R/CID) model (Atkinson, Morten, & Sue, 1998) and the hierarchical model of leisure constraints (Crawford, Jackson, & Godbey, 1991; Jackson, Crawford, & Godbey, 1993) supported this study as theoretical frameworks.

The findings of this study suggest that constraints to LTPA and use of campus recreation services and facilities for African American women emerged from the following themes: LTPA engagement and campus recreation facility use, constraints to LTPA engagement and campus recreation facility use, health perspectives, campus environment, and racial identity and relationships. The criteria for selection of participants was based on race, gender, age, attendance at the same PWI, being raised in Gary, Indiana, and having lived on campus. The study also found that similarities among participants included being raised with similar health values and views on body image. However, differences in participants’ sports and recreational backgrounds, racial experiences on campus, ability to cope within the university environment, and racial identity affected negotiating identified constraints. Implications for professional practice and recommendations for further research on this topic focus on racial/cultural health behaviors and education, inclusionary recreation programming, campus environment, physical activity motivation, and racial/cultural identity and relationships for African American collegiate women and other students of color.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services

First Advisor

Christopher R. Edginton, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xi, 210 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Friday, August 07, 2020

Off-Campus Download