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US nurse academic warns of low exercise levels among black women

Black woman living in cities may need more support and encouragement to take part in regular physical exercise, according to a leading US nursing academic.

Wanda Thompson, an assistant professor at the Rutgers University school of nursing in New Jersey, has suggested establishing exercise classes in churches may be one answer to the problem.

She warned that a large percentage of African American females were failing to meet recommendations in the US that children up to age 18 participate in 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Ms Thompson, who previously worked as a nurse practitioner in North Carolina, said she often observed girls in their late teens or early 20s already with health problems like elevated blood pressure and showing signs of diabetes.

“These are girls whose health conditions are only going to worsen as they get older,” she said. “It’s increasingly important to encourage them to participate in more preventative activities from an early age.”

Wanda Thompson

Wanda Thompson

She said many black women and their daughters recognised the importance of regular physical activity, but needed some guidance on how to best work it into their days.

Ms Thompson noted that people often felt they had little time in their daily lives for exercise and that access to facilities could also be a problem in poorer urban environments.

She has suggested one way to provide access could be through churches and is currently seeking funding to pilot the idea.

“I’d like to find a way to build aerobics or other programs into existing community church activities,” she said. “It’s just another way to promote physical fitness in a community to ensure that young girls grow into healthy women.”


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