Correlates of physical activity in urban Midwestern Latinas

Jo Ellen Wilbur, Peggy J. Chandler, Barbara Dancy, Hoenkyeong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Latinas (Latino women) are at higher risk than non-Latina white women of cardiovascular disease and stroke, primarily because of higher rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes mellitus. Increases in physical activity help control these cardiovascular risk factors, but a higher percentage of Latinas than white women are inactive. The study goals were to identify personal, social environmental, and physical environmental correlates of physical activity of urban-dwelling, Midwestern Latinas and to obtain their recommendations for increasing exercise in their communities. Methods: A face-to-face interview (Women and Physical Activity Survey) that covered personal, social environmental, and physical environmental correlates of physical activity was performed with 300 volunteer Latinas (242 in Spanish, 58 in English), aged 20 to 50 years, living in Chicago. Physical activity was measured with questions on lifestyle and planned leisure activity (exercise) from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. Results: The sample consisted of urban-dwelling Latinas who were primarily from Mexico and who spoke predominantly Spanish. The breakdown was as follows: 36% met current recommendations for moderate or vigorous physical activity, 52.3% were insufficiently active, and 11.7% were inactive. Physical activity was higher among younger women, married women, and women with the following characteristics: had some confidence about becoming more active, saw people exercising in the neighborhood, attended religious services, or lived in areas with heavy traffic. Conclusions: Interventions need to focus on encouraging Latinas, especially those who are older, to reach the level of physical activity recommended to benefit health. The church may be a suitable community setting for initiating programs that provide women with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to become more active so that they can bring back to the larger Latina community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number3 SUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, grant U48/CCU409660, and by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, grant 039361. We thank Mary Buntin, MS, MPH, RN, for overseeing data collection.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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