The relation of acculturation to latinas' perceived neighborhood safety and physical activity: A structural equation analysis


Background: Physical activity rates are low for adult Latinas. In the United States, only 7.8% of adult Latinas met Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for weekly vigorous leisure-time physical activity. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to test a theoretical model examining the direct and indirect influence of individual factors (demographic factors and acculturation) and the direct influence of built environmental variables (perceived neighborhood safety/aesthetics) on Latinas' physical activity in a U.S. border region. Methods: Acculturation, perceived neighborhood safety/aesthetics, sociodemographic variables, and minutes of physical activity a week were collected from 526 Latinas using standardized survey measures. Results: Only 30% of the Latinas reported meeting International Physical Activity Questionnaire's vigorous physical activity criteria, 8.6% met moderate, and 46.4% met walking. Findings from the structural equation modeling indicated that acculturation was positively associated with Latinas' vigorous and moderate physical activity, with no significant relation to walking. There were no direct associations of perceived neighborhood safety/aesthetics on any of the three measures of physical activity. Conclusions: Data suggest that acculturating to the U.S. mainstream culture may have positive effects on Latinas' reported physical activity. Contrary to studies of other populations, the perceived neighborhood environment was not related to Latinas' physical activity. Culturally appropriate interventions are needed for Latinas who are less acculturated into the United States. © 2007 by The Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Publication Title

Annals of Behavioral Medicine