Socio-cultural predictors of exercise among Hispanic women living in a high-risk community along the US-Mexico border

Sherrie Wise, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Along with diet, health-promoting behaviors like deliberate (or leisurely) exercise are an instrumental component of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of chronic disease. Hispanic women are less likely to exercise, and experience higher rates of overweight and obesity. Exercise is determined, in part, by influences in the social environment. Although socio-cultural influences on exercise among Hispanics have received growing attention, their effects remain understudied in low-income Hispanic women living in the US/Mexico border region. This study evaluated the relationship between a range of socio-cultural factors and cognitive-behavioral outcomes of exercise including exercise self-efficacy, outcome expectations of exercise, intention to exercise, and hours of weekly exercise. Predictor factors will include interpersonal variables existing in the social environment, categorized into normative, functional, and structural social factors. Previously identified sociodemographic covariates of exercise were also evaluated. Linear and non-linear associations were observed, using bivariate analysis, multiple regression, and one-way ANOVA. A cross-sectional design was used to explore baseline responses of female participants (n = 302) enrolled in a 5-year community-based CVD risk reduction project previously conducted (2009 - 2013) in an urban El Paso County community along the US/Mexico border. Several factors were found to be important. They were: social obligations to the family; having children in the home; subjective norms of the family, friends, and health care provider regarding exercise; as well as sociodemographic factors, including neighborhood safety, income, health condition, and nativity. Although women in this population experience robust familial networks and generally supportive environments, social obligations that are characteristic of the Hispanic culture have important implications for exercise. Physical limitations due to poor health condition as well as neighborhood safety concerns may further undermine positive lifestyle change efforts. Community exercise resources should be low-cost, safe, family-oriented, provide options for child-care, and be culturally-appropriate. Interventions should include bilingual facilitators of Hispanic background. Findings from this study should be considered in light of some limitations. This study was non-experimental, used non-random sampling, and results observed only represent correlational relationship versus causality. Possible ceiling effects due to the wording of some items measured may have masked variance, further warranting a word of caution. Social desirability effects, which were not measured, should also be considered. Generalizability is limited to low-income, un-acculturated Mexican American women living along the US/Mexico border.

Subject Area

Public health|Public administration|Health education

Recommended Citation

Wise, Sherrie, "Socio-cultural predictors of exercise among Hispanic women living in a high-risk community along the US-Mexico border" (2014). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3638327.