Mexican-American Children's Perspectives

Neighborhood Characteristics and Physical Activity in Texas-Mexico Border Colonias

Two women getting into van.

This qualitative study identifies obstacles to physical activity among children growing up in colonias--impoverished neighborhoods along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Issue:
Children living in underserved neighborhoods known as colonias suffer from environmental conditions limiting physical activity.  

Key Findings

  • Obstacles to physical activity include poorly lit and maintained streets, the presence of gangs and gun violence, and time spent on TV, video games and cell phones.

  • Physical activity could increase if there were more neighborhood fields and parks, if parents also participated in physical activity, and if physical education classes in school were more fun.

Children growing up in colonias face many challenges, including significant barriers to physical activity. Obstacles to exercise include unsafe conditions and sedentary activities. Physical activity levels may improve with increased neighborhood facilities and adult involvement in exercise.

About the Study:
The authors conducted this qualitative study with 67 Mexican-American children ages 8-13 living in colonias along the Texas border. Focus groups were recorded and coded to identify key themes.