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Supporting Physical Activity Programs for Latino Men

Text messaging and/or phone calls boost accountability.

Latino men exercising

Did you know that Latino men have higher rates of disease related to low physical activity when compared with non-Latino white men? Forty percent never engage in any leisure-time physical activity, compared with 26% of non-Latino white men.

Similar disparities occur at every income level, so reasons are not only socioeconomic. Diabetes prevalence is 50% higher; nearly 80% are overweight or obese—the highest of any major demographic group. Latina women are more physically active, which may be because they have ready access to activities such as dance and walking groups.

A recent study by researchers found that Latino men tend to use mobile phones and text messaging more than non-Latino whites (85% versus 79%), and phone calls are an effective way to coach them. Other successful measures include offering Spanish-language educational print materials, providing information on how to include family members and enlist social support, and using environmental resources and distance-based approaches that allow for odd working hours.

Study authors are encouraged by the success of phone-based methods and recommend more research on how to tailor programs to reduce these health disparities.

The research is available in the of Preventive Medicine (2020; 59 [2], 219–27).

See also: Improving the Health of Latino Children

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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