Still striding toward social justice? Redirecting physical activity research in a post-COVID-19 world

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Health Services Administration | Infectious Disease | Race and Ethnicity | Social Justice | Translational Medical Research | Virus Diseases


The COVID-19 crisis and parallel Black Lives Matter movement have amplified longstanding systemic injustices among people of color (POC). POC have been differentially affected by COVID-19, reflecting the disproportionate burden of ongoing chronic health challenges associated with socioeconomic inequalities and unhealthy behaviors, including a lack of physical activity. Clear and well-established benefits link daily physical activity to health and well-being-physical, mental, and existential. Despite these benefits, POC face additional barriers to participation. Thus, increasing physical activity among POC requires additional considerations so that POC can receive the same opportunities to safely participate in physical activity as Americans who are White. Framed within the Ecologic Model of Physical Activity, this commentary briefly describes health disparities in COVID-19, physical activity, and chronic disease experienced by POC; outlines underlying putative mechanisms that connect these disparities; and offers potential solutions to reduce these disparities. As behavioral medicine leaders, we advocate that solutions must redirect the focus of behavioral research toward community-informed and systems solutions.


African Americans, Ethnic groups, Health equity, Hispanic Americans, Physical exercise, Racism, COVID-19, physical activity, social justice

DOI of Published Version



Lee RE, Joseph RP, Blackman Carr LT, Strayhorn SM, Faro JM, Lane H, Monroe C, Pekmezi D, Szeszulski J. Still striding toward social justice? Redirecting physical activity research in a post-COVID-19 world. Transl Behav Med. 2021 Apr 3:ibab026. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibab026. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33822205. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Translational behavioral medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID