177334 Walking towards a healthy weight: A practical way to promote physical activity among Latina immigrants

Monday, October 27, 2008

Nancy Bruning, MPH , Immigration and Health Initiative, Urban Public Health Program, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York City, NY
Anahi Viladrich, PhD , Immigration and Health Initiative, Urban Public Health Program, The School of Health Sciences, The Schools of the Health Professions, Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York, NY
Ming-Chin Yeh, PhD , Urban Public Health Program, Hunter College, CUNY, New York City, NY

Latina women appear to be less physically active than their non-Latina counterparts in the US, which may contribute to their higher rates of obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes. This project investigated the barriers to physical activity and ways in which Latinas overcome them.


Six focus groups of Latinas were conducted in New York City, two consisting of physically active women and four of non-physically active ones. A multi-method data collection system was designed based on group discussion guidelines and individual instruments (e.g., sociodemographic profile).


Latinas face a barrage of barriers regarding physical activity, including lack of time due to work, school and family obligations, all aspects that interact with personal procrastination and lack of motivation. Transportation/location and cost of gyms were mentioned across all groups since appealing and affordable facilities are not located where participants lived. Physically active Latinas often highlighted walking as the solution to these problems, since it is free and can be easily integrated into regular activities, does not require a gym or special clothing and can be done in social groups or pairs. Physically active women suggested it was a habit that was transferred from their countries of origin, where walking was a major form of daily transportation. Winter weather, long hours of darkness, and safety issues were identified as obstacles to year-round walking.


Walking for leisure and for commuting purposes should be promoted among Latinas and places for safe, pleasant walks should be available in neighborhoods where immigrants reside.

Learning Objectives:
1. List the major barriers to physical activity among Latina immigrants in the US. 2. Describe the perceived advantages and disadvantages of walking among this population. 3. Point out ways in which walking could be encouraged among immigrants.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was one of the researchers on the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.