Journal of International Migration and Integration

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1231–1250 | Cite as

Socio-Cultural Determinants of Physical Activity among Latin American Immigrant Women in Alberta, Canada

  • Ximena Ramos Salas
  • Kim Raine
  • Helen Vallianatos
  • John C. Spence


Acculturation has been associated with decreased physical activity among immigrants. This study assessed the process of changing physical activity patterns within the context of Latin American immigrant women’s migration experiences to Canada. Using the ecological model of health promotion, we applied a mixed methods research design. Thirty-six Latin American immigrant women, 18 recent (<10 years in Canada) and 18 non-recent (>10 years in Canada), participated. Six focus groups and 14 in-depth individual interviews were conducted. The Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire was administered. Overall, 86 % of the participants reported gaining weight since coming to Canada. Participants reported becoming more sedentary upon arriving in Canada. Only 27.3 % of recent and 41.7 % of non-recent immigrant women were considered sufficiently physically active. Lack of time, resources, social support, and migration stress were identified as key barriers to physical activity. Migration stress associated with social integration barriers strongly influence physical activity among Latin American immigrant women.


Social determinants of health Physical activity Immigrant women Acculturation Obesity 



This research project was supported by the Promotion of Optimal Weights through Ecological Research (POWER) research programme at the Centre for Health Promotion Studies which was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The corresponding author also held a Canada Graduate Scholarship Research Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Written informed consent was obtained from each participant. To ensure confidentiality, a coding system for the focus groups and individual interviews was developed. All quotes used in this publication reference the appropriate codes. Pseudonyms were also used, and in some cases, country of origin was modified to protect participants’ identities. Ethics approval was obtained through the Institutional Review Board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ximena Ramos Salas
    • 1
  • Kim Raine
    • 2
  • Helen Vallianatos
    • 3
  • John C. Spence
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Health Promotion Studies, School of Public Health, 3-300 Edmonton Clinic Health AcademyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Health Promotion Studies, School of Public Health, 4-308 Edmonton Clinic Health AcademyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of Physical Education and RecreationUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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