Work Trumps Exercise for Many Hispanics

Many get all their physical activity in the home or on the job, study finds

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MONDAY, March 20, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Hispanic American men and women get most of their daily physical activity from work- and home-related tasks, rather than recreational exercise, researchers report.

That could be a problem, because "if (Hispanics) believe they are getting enough physical activity to achieve health benefits at their job and at home, it will be difficult to encourage them to get exercise," researcher David Marquez, of the University of Massachusetts, said in a prepared statement.

His team tracked the activity levels of 155 people living in towns in central Illinois.

Reporting in the current issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, they found that men were more likely to get their physical activity at work, while women were more likely to get their physical activity at home. The study also found that Hispanics who were more "Americanized" in their language and culture had lower overall and work-related activity rates. That may be because they're less likely to work in manual labor jobs.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Illinois.

These are the first findings of their kind for the Hispanic community in the United States, and they highlight one of the challenges of promoting exercise in this community.

Previous research suggests that many Hispanic Americans don't get recreational exercise. One study found that a third of Mexican-American males and 46 percent of females said they got no leisure-time physical activity.

It's also been found that, compared to their white counterparts, middle-class Hispanic Americans work an average of five hours more per week and Hispanic professionals an extra 13 hours a week.

Marquez noted that, "with such demanding work requirements, finding time to exercise may prove to be difficult."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about the benefits of exercise.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, March 20, 2006

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