Objective: To identify the perceived barriers to and benefits of leisure-time physical activity among older Mexican Americans (MA) and European Americans (EA). Design: Cross-sectional survey using in-home interviews of subjects. Setting: Subjects recruited from 10 family practice offices in South Texas that are part of a practice-based research network. Participants: Two hundred ten MA and EA adults, aged 60 years and older, interviewed between April 1994 and April 1996. Measurements: The perceived benefits and barriers summary score from the San Diego Health and Exercise Questionnaire, the Minnesota Leisure Time Physical Activity Questionnaire, body mass index, chronic diseases, depressive symptoms, and demographics. Main Results: Older MA reported greater perceived benefits to physical activity and fewer perceived barriers than older MA while having lower levels of habitual physical activity. Lower levels of education, male sex, higher body mass index, and older age were also associated with lower levels of habitual physical activity. Conclusions: Although MA reported lower levels of physical activity, they perceived greater benefits and fewer barriers to physical activity. These attitudes about physical activity held by older MA may present an opportunity to encourage greater levels of physical activity throughout this population.
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