The Public Opinion Center at the Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) has released their latest report, which focuses on health and physical activity in Mexico. According to the report:
- 34% of the population, despite being predominantly young, has at least one of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome (diabetes, hypertension, etc.) and 20% are overweight
- 66% recognize that their family has one or more of these conditions, predominantly diabetes, obesity and hypertension
- 60% of the population rarely engages in exercise and 42% said that it had been more than a year since they practiced any physical activity
- 72% of the population recognizes that exercise can improve health, but this high degree of awareness among the population has not led to an increase in exercise
The study, conducted by the Public Opinion Center, in conjunction with UVM’s School of Health Sciences and School of Sport Management, explores the reasons why people do not exercise despite knowing its benefits. According to the findings from the report, there is no clear definition as to what is to exercise. Physical activity seems to be a term with many connotations and associations, even among experts in the field. It is undeniable that it implies movement and generates benefits for those who are practicing, but definitions range from "body movement”, to practicing a sport, doing exercise, or other forms of entertainment. The general population associated exercise with physical activation (54%) and sports (20%).
Although a significant percentage of the population reported walking at least 15 minutes every day and undertaking some other physical activity, they do not necessarily consider that these are physically active activities. By questioning respondents about the frequency with which they perform sport, 40% said three or more times per week, but some 20% said never, and a similar percentage reported once or twice a week. Overall, the report showed that most of the population does not have constant physical activity. Those that do are predominantly walking or playing football, by far the most popular in Mexico.
Who are responsible for the administration of sport and physical activation in Mexico?
The federal government is considered the primary agent in promoting physical activity, followed by associations and federations, schools and local governments. All these groups were judged poorly, earning less than 50 points on a scale of 0-100.
Knowledge of programs
Only 31% of the population admitted knowing about a physical education program, and listed a total of 142 different programs.
- There is awareness among the population about the importance of being physically active. It is known and recognized that this improves health and contributes to personal wellbeing.
- People are unaware of what type of physical activity to perform according to their age and lifestyle. Promotional campaigns have been focused on raising awareness about the importance of exercise, but don’t explain how.
- It is not clear, even among experts, what physical activity means, or the difference between it and the sport.
- Change will require leadership (which should come from the government) to issue a strategy in this area, define policies and ensure that they act synergistically and coordinated on all fronts.
A qualitative study was conducted through in-depth interviews with general practitioners and experts in the field of sport and physical activation, which allowed context and design the quantitative exercise, which consisted of a face-to-face survey administered to a sample of 1580 Mexican during the month of April 2013. The surveys were conducted by academics and students at the 12 campuses of UVM, using a random sampling method AGEBS of the following cities in Mexico: Mexico City metropolitan area, Guadalajara, Merida, Mexicali, Monterrey, Reynosa, Toluca and Veracruz.
Further results in www.opinionpublicauvm.mx
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.