Racial/Ethnic Differences in Physical Activity in a Low-Income Sample in Texas

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Nalini Ranjit Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health Austin, Austin, TX, USA

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David J. Badillo Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health Austin, Austin, TX, USA

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Deanna M. Hoelscher Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health Austin, Austin, TX, USA

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Sarah Macias Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA

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Alejandra Gonzalez Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health Austin, Austin, TX, USA

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Anna V. Wilkinson Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health Austin, Austin, TX, USA

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Introduction: National data reveal that the age-adjusted prevalence of leisure-time physical inactivity is higher among Blacks and Hispanics compared with Whites. However, these estimates do not consider nonleisure physical activity (PA). Also, race/ethnicity in these findings may by confounded by socioeconomic status disparities in PA. Here, we examine racial/ethnic differences in multiple measures of PA within a lower socioeconomic status sample. Methods: Participants in the current cross-sectional study (n = 1526 adults, aged ≥ 18 y) were recruited from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education classes (nutrition education classes that target low-income people) in Texas. Self-report data were obtained using survey questionnaires in spring and fall 2018. PA outcomes of 4 different intensities were assessed: mean daily time spent walking, engaging in moderate and vigorous PA, and sitting. Additional PA-related measures included use and awareness of community PA resources. Linear regression models examined racial/ethnic differences in the 4 PA outcomes after adjusting for participant gender, age, household composition measures, and various socioeconomic status measures. Results: In this low-income sample, Hispanic and Black participants spent 6 to 9 more minutes per day walking and engaging in moderate and vigorous PA compared with White/other participants (P < .05 for each measure). Conversely, White/other participants reported spending 82 more minutes sitting per day than Black and Hispanic participants (P < .01). Overall, Black participants were most likely to utilize community PA resources and report ease of engaging in exercise. Discussion: Together, these results reveal greater engagement in PA by racial/ethnic minorities in low-income communities compared with Whites. Our results have implications for tailoring PA programming to these communities.

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