Sub-population differences in the relationship between the neighborhood environment and Latinas' daily walking and vehicle time

Key takeaway:

  • Latina women spend a lot of time in vehicles and not a lot of time walking, which has health consequences. This is one of the first studies to examine associations of intrapersonal and perceived neighborhood environment factors with objectively measured walking and vehicle time among Latina women. 


  • Latinas do not walk a lot and spend a lot of time in vehicles.
  • Latinas with overweight/obesity walked less and spent more time in vehicles.
  • Latinas with higher incomes also spent more time in vehicles, while Latinas of lower income were more likely to walk for transportation.
  • There were no significant associations with perceptions of one’s neighborhood environment and daily walking or vehicle time.
  • Among Latinas of normal weight, having access to walkable destinations was associated with more vehicle time. This is likely because perceived access to destinations may not reflect actual access: Despite high land use mix (access to a variety of destinations), if people do not use these places then they are unlikely to walk to them and more likely to drive to places that are farther. 
  • Among Latinas with at least a high school education, people walked more and spent less time in vehicles if they had greater perceptions of safety from crime. Safety from crime may be more significant to those with higher education levels since they are more likely to drive than those with lower education levels (largely due to cost).



  • It is important to distinguish between choice and necessity of both walking and vehicle behaviors. If people walk or drive out of necessity, the neighborhood environment may be less relevant since their commute mode is not necessarily a choice (i.e., walking since they cannot afford a car, or driving since destinations are too far to walk to). Meanwhile, those who choose to walk or drive may care more about favorable neighborhood environmental characteristics.
  • Focusing on improving perceptions of safety from crime is a worthwhile way to motivate more Latinas to walk.



  • A subsample of Latinas participating in a church-driven health intervention in San Diego in 2012 wore an accelerometer and GPS device and Personal Activity Location and Measurement System software estimated their daily walking and vehicle time. They also completed a survey on socio-demographic characteristics and perceptions of their neighborhood environment.


Serrano, N.; Perez, L.G.; Carlson, J.; Patrick, K.; Kerr, J.; Holub, C.; Arredondo, E.M. (2017). Sub-population differences in the relationship between the neighborhood environment and Latinas' daily walking and vehicle time. Journal of Transport & Health, Article in press.

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