Hard-working Latinas may not be getting their daily exercise as needed. A $3.48 million dollar study will use promotoras (trained community health workers) to lead group education and exercise sessions for Latinas at community centers in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
San Antonio.- Hard-working Latinas may not be getting their daily exercise as needed. A $3.48 million dollar study will use promotoras (trained community health workers) to lead group education and exercise sessions for Latinas at community centers in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the program, called Enlace, is intended to unite Latinas in an effort to raise their activity rates.
Participants will also receive newsletters and counseling over the phone.
“The idea behind Enlace is that, through this promotora intervention, Latinas will gain an otherwise-unavailable layer of social support to overcome barriers to activity and make positive behavioral changes – namely that Latinas engage in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on five or more days a week,” said study leader Deborah Parrah-Medina, PH.D., M.P.H. and professor at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the School of Medicine of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Dr. Parra-Medina and her colleagues worked with community groups to identify the factors influencing the level of physical activity of Latinas in South Texas.
Work and family responsibilities, time, social isolation, lack of support, personal motivation and access issues are some deterrents of physical activity.
The team created the Enlace intervention using promotoras to help Latinos remove those barriers to enable them to stay fit.
The enlace program was tested on a small group of people from South Texas and South Carolina. Results showed the women on Enlace increased their physical activity by 56.4 percent, compared to 48.8 percent among the control subjects.
Dr. Parra-Medina’s team will recruit 704 Latinas ages 18-64 for a new study.
Qualified applicants are those who don’t meet federal physical activity guidelines from eight community resource centers in colonias, or impoverished Latino settlements in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The women in the study will be randomly assigned: half of the women will receive 16 weekly promotora group sessions, 24 weeks or maintenance intervention and promotora counseling by phone; the control group will receive 16 weekly sessions, monthly home visits and generic health education.
The team will compare the groups’ minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, physical fitness and weight maintenance. Factors such as social support, environmental barriers and social worth are also considered.
“We hypothesize that Latinas in the intervention group will significantly increase their levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity compared to those in the control group,” Dr. Parra-Medina said.
Co-investigators in the study are: Daniel Carlos Hughes, Ph.D., assistant professor at the IHPR; Joel Michalek, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio; Daisy Morales-Campos, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow at the IHPR; and Jennifer Salinas, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in The University of Texas School of Public Health’s Brownsville Regional Campus.
The UT Health Science Center, with the help of a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, will run the program to help staying in shape a little easier for Latinas.