A new study by professors Loneke Blackman Carr and Jolaade Kalinowski at the University of Connecticut (UConn) spotlights how Black Girls Run!, a nationwide community group, empowers Black women to be physically active amid alarming health disparities.
The researchers analyzed the Black Girls Run! Facebook page to understand how it fosters fitness engagement. Their findings, published in JMIR Formative Research, showcase an inclusive approach other health initiatives could emulate, UConn Today at the University of Connecticut reported.
Blackman Carr explained that a good number of traditional fitness spaces alienate Black women’s body types. On the contrary, Black Girls Run! nurtures a welcoming community. CEO of the organization Jay Ell Alexander affirmed, “We are moving and motivating women to change the narrative of what running and health looks like.”
The UConn scholars intentionally highlighted the group’s strengths, rather than deficiencies. Kalinowski said, “Rather than going around and trying to create things from scratch, why don’t we look to the people … seeing what they’re already doing and how we can support that.”
Analyzing posts and member interactions, the predominant focus was celebrating achievements, offering motivation, and promoting group exercise events. This social support garnered the most reaction and engagement.
The researchers advocate for building on these effective grassroots efforts instead of imposing interventions. Kalinowski expressed that digital platforms like Facebook, combined with in-person chapters, provide avenues to expand the initiative’s reach.
Overall, the scholars praised the participatory approach deployed by Black Girls Run! and encouraged further research partnerships.
Still, promoting Black health amid ongoing racism, poses challenges. Blackman Carr referred to Ahmaud Arbery’s murder while jogging as emblematic of some of the dangers still faced. She said physical activity promotion must address systemic inequities.
RELATED CONTENT: Men Should Prioritize These 5 Things If They Want To Stay Healthy
Source: Black Enterprise