Perception of Safety and Its Association With Physical Activity in Adolescents in Mexico

  • Maria E. Hermosillo-Gallardo
    Address correspondence to: Maria E. Hermosillo-Gallardo, PhD, Departamento de Actividad Física y Estilos de Vida Saludables, Centro de Investigación en Nutrición y Salud, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Mexico City, Mexico.
    Department of Physical Activity and Healthy Lifestyles, Centre for Nutrition and Health Research, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico City, Mexico

    Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
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  • Simon J. Sebire
    Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
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  • Russell Jago
    Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
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Published:February 13, 2020DOI:


      Low levels of physical activity are associated with several noncommunicable diseases. In Mexico, 39.5% of adolescents do not meet WHO physical activity guidelines. Previous literature suggests an association between perception of safety and physical activity. This paper examines the association between perceived crime and pedestrian safety and physical activity in Mexican adolescents.


      This cross-sectional study used data from 4,079 adolescents aged 15–18 years in Mexico. Physical activity was measured with the Youth Physical Activity Questionnaire and was grouped into the following 5 domains: (1) moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, (2) sports activity, (3) leisure time activity, (4) physical education class, and (5) active commuting to school. Perception of safety was measured as pedestrian safety and crime safety, using the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale-Youth. Confirmatory factor analysis was performed to examine the construct validity of this scale on the Mexican population. Data were collected in 2017 and analyzed in 2018. Associations between physical activity and perception of safety were examined using linear regression models.


      Low perception of pedestrian safety was associated with lower moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week (coefficient= −0.12, 95% CI= −0.19, −0.05) and lower sports activity per week (coefficient= −0.13, 95% CI= −0.23, −0.03) in female adolescents. There was no association between perception of safety and physical activity among male adolescents.


      Pedestrian safety was negatively associated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and sports participation in female youth. Environments with better lighting, crosswalks, and walking/cycle trails could increase physical activity in female youth.
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