Personal, Social, and Physical Environmental Correlates of Physical Activity Levels in Urban Latinas

Carolyn Voorhees and Deborah Young

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Nationwide, Hispanic women report low levels of physical activity and bear excess health risk associated with inactivity. This study investigated the relationship between physical activity levels and sociodemographic, social environmental, and physical environmental factors.

A cross-sectional, community-based convenience sample of 285 Hispanic/Latino women completed a face-to-face survey administered in Spanish.

Main Outcome Measures:
The following categories of physical activity were used in analyses: “meets current national recommendations,” which includes women who reported engaging in moderate activity at least 5 days per week for at least 30 minutes or who engaged in vigorous activity at least 3 days per week for at least 20 minutes; “insufficiently active” for women not meeting moderate or vigorous objectives; and “inactive” for women who report no moderate or vigorous physical activity.

The majority of women (46%) were aged 20 to 29 years, 48% have less than or equal to a high school education, 72% are employed, 43% speak Spanish, and 76% are from Central or South America. A total of 37% of the women met physical activity recommendations, 23% were inactive, and 40% were insufficiently active. Personal and physical environmental factors were not statistically significant correlates of activity level comparison groups; however, most indicated trends in the hypothesized direction. Social environmental factors that showed statistically significant relationships with various physical activity comparison groups included the following: Women were significantly less likely to be active if they reported knowing people who exercise (odds ratio [OR]0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.23–0.76), reported that there are people in the neighborhood who exercise (adjusted OR0.19; 95% CI, 0.09–0.42), belonged to community groups (OR0.32; 95% CI, 0.15–0.69), or attended religious services (OR0.41; 95% CI, 0.41–0.72).

Conclusion: Social environmental factors appeared to be the most important factors related to physical activity in this group of Latino women. Physical environment and personal factors, although not statistically significant, showed trends in expected directions and should be explored further.