Nativity and Occupational Determinants of Physical Activity Participation Among Latinos

Published:November 13, 2018DOI:


      Latinos in the U.S. bear a disproportionate burden of cardiovascular risk factors, including physical inactivity. Previous research among Latinos has focused on leisure-time physical activity, limiting understanding of the different ways in which populations, particularly working-class groups, achieve recommended levels of physical activity. This study examined associations of race/ethnicity; nativity; and leisure-time, transportation, and occupation-related physical activity among Latino and non-Latino white adults.


      Participants sampled in the 2007–2012 waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey self-reported domain-specific physical activity. Data were analyzed in 2016–2017 using multivariable log binomial regression models to examine differences in meeting guidelines for each physical activity domain separately and as total physical activity among Latinos (n=4,692) and non-Latino whites (n=7,788). Models were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and health status and tested interactions between nativity and occupational categories.


      In adjusted models, foreign-born Latinos (prevalence ratio=0.70, 95% CI=0.63, 0.77) and U.S.-born Latinos (prevalence ratio=0.85, 95% CI=0.76, 0.95) were least likely to meet physical activity guidelines through occupation-related and leisure time physical activity, when compared with non-Latino whites. By contrast, foreign-born Latinos were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines through transportation physical activity than non-Latino whites (prevalence ratio=1.26, 95% CI=1.01, 1.56) and were proportionately more likely to participate in vigorous modes of physical activity. Interaction results indicated that foreign-born Latinos were the least likely to meet physical activity guidelines compared with U.S.-born Latinos and non-Latino whites if they worked in non-manual occupational categories. All racial/ethnic groups working in manual occupations saw the largest increase (40%–50%) in meeting physical activity guidelines when occupation-related physical activity was combined with leisure-time and transportation physical activity.


      These findings suggest variability in the relationship between nativity and the physical activity domain Latinos engage in compared with non-Latino whites, with occupation contributing substantially to meeting physical activity recommendations for all population groups.
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