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J Community Health. 2007 Dec;32(6):401-12.

Un Corazón Saludable: factors influencing outcomes of an exercise program designed to impact cardiac and metabolic risks among urban Latinas.

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  • 1Einstein Center for Urban Health Policy and Research, Wister Tower Building, One Penn Boulevard, Suite 4442, Philadelphia, PA 19144, USA.


A high prevalence of physical inactivity, metabolic risk factors, and depression place Latinas in peril of developing cardiovascular disease. "Un Corazón Saludable: A Healthy Heart" was developed to engage urban Latinas in physical activity and increase awareness of cardiac and metabolic risk factors. Two hundred and twenty-five Latinas enrolled in the program that included salsa aerobics and culturally sensitive health education modules. Cardiac and metabolic risk factors measured in this study were body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, abdominal obesity, and blood pressure. Psychosocial risk factors measured included depressive symptoms and perceived social support. Fifty-two percent of the enrollees completed the program. Results indicated decreases in BMI, abdominal obesity, and symptoms of depression among Latinas who completed the program. Those who did not complete the program were younger, had greater depressive symptomatology, reported poorer social support, and they tended to be caregivers and U.S. born. Focus groups of program participants ascertained that caregiving and family obligations were major barriers to exercise while social support was a major facilitator of exercise. This research indicates that programs developed to recognize and address cultural barriers can impact physical and psychosocial risk factors among urban Latinas who are able to attend. Program retention may improve if future exercise programs conducted through community-base organizations offered support to Latinas regarding issues that interfere with self-care and health promotion. Future programs should consider including mental health and social service case management as part of comprehensive exercise/educational programs.

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