Physical activity patterns and neighborhood characteristics of first-generation Latina immigrants living in Arizona: Cross-sectional study

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Background: Metabolic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, are a major health concern for Latina immigrants. Performing regular aerobic physical activity (PA) is a lifestyle behavior associated with the prevention and control of these conditions. However, PA levels of most Latina immigrants are below national guidelines. Neighborhood environmental factors may influence the PA levels of adults, but limited research has explored associations between the neighborhood environment and PA levels among Latina immigrants. Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the PA patterns of first-generation US Latina immigrants and how neighborhood environmental factors are related to those PA patterns. Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design, 50 first-generation Latina immigrants completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and the Neighborhood Scales Questionnaire, which assessed 6 perceived neighborhood factors: (1) walking environment, (2) aesthetic quality, (3) safety, (4) violence, (5) social cohesion, and (6) activities with neighbors. Median self-reported metabolic equivalent (MET)-minutes/week of PA were used to summarize domain-specific (ie, work, domestic/household, leisure, and transportation) and intensity-specific (ie, walking, moderate, vigorous, moderate to vigorous) PA patterns. Logistic regression examined associations between neighborhood factors and engaging in leisure-time PA (ie, dichotomous outcome of some versus no leisure-time PA), transportation PA (ie, dichotomous outcome of some versus no transportation PA), and meeting national PA guidelines (ie, dichotomous outcome of meeting versus not meeting guidelines). Results: Preliminary analyses showed that 10 participants reported excessively high PA levels and 1 participant had incomplete PA data; these women were excluded from analyses based on IPAQ scoring guidelines. The remaining 39 participants (mean age 40.5 years; mean length of US residency 4.6 years) reported a median of 4512 MET-minutes/week of total PA. The majority of PA was acquired through domestic activities (median 2160 MET-minutes/week), followed by leisure-time PA (median 396 MET-minutes/week), transportation PA (median 198 MET-minutes/week), and work PA (0 MET-minutes/week). Intensity-specific PA patterns showed a median of 594 MET-minutes/week of walking activity and 3500 MET-minutes/week of moderate-to-vigorous PA. Logistic regression models indicated that the neighborhood factors of walking environment, aesthetic quality, and safety were positively associated with engaging in leisure-time PA (odds ratios of 5.95, 95% CI 1.49-23.74; 2.45, 95% CI 1.01-5.93; and 3.30, 95% CI 1.26-8.67, respectively) and meeting national PA guidelines (odds ratios of 4.15, 95% CI 1.13-15.18; 6.43, 95% CI 1.45-28.39; and 2.53, 95% CI 1.00-6.36, respectively). The neighborhood factors of violence, social cohesion, and activities with neighbors were not significantly associated with PA outcomes. Conclusions: Although most participants met national PA guidelines (ie, ≥500 MET-minutes/week of moderate-to-vigorous PA), the majority of their PA was achieved through domestic activities, with limited leisure, transportation, and work PA. Given that leisure-time PA in particular plays a significant role in improving health outcomes, findings suggest that many Latina immigrants could benefit from a leisure-time PA intervention. Such interventions should consider neighborhood environmental influences, as these factors may serve as determinants of PA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere25663
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Emigrants
  • Emigrants and immigrants
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health outcomes
  • Immigrants
  • Latina
  • Metabolic disease
  • Physical activity
  • Residence characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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