Neighborhood Factors Influence Physical Activity Among African American and Hispanic or Latina Women

Ethnic minority women have the lowest rates of physical activity of any U.S. population sub-group. Recommended physical activity levels are achieved by only 36.3 percent of African American and 41.8 percent of Hispanic women, compared to 50.1 percent of White women. Engaging in routine physical activities such as walking or biking, however, require safe streets or paths, traffic control devices, and other street-scale elements that may be lacking in minority neighborhoods.

Researchers used data from the Health Is Power (HIP) multi-site community-based randomized controlled trial to increase physical activity in African American and Hispanic women in two Texas cities. They used the Pedestrian Environmental Data Scan (PEDS) instrument to objectively measure street and pedestrian features related to walking and cycling.

After completing a baseline health assessment, women were randomized into a group intervention to promote walking or to increase vegetable and fruit consumption. Participants’ physical activity was measured using an accelerometer for seven consecutive days.

The researchers found that crossing aids and traffic-control devices were related to physical activity adoption and maintenance in the physical activity group. The women assigned to the vegetable and fruit group who lived in neighborhoods with greater amenities also increased their physical activity.

This article was not funded directly by RWJF, but is being provided as an additional resource from this special issue of Health & Place.