Low-income

  Population considerations:

  • Beliefs. Some individuals with low-income do not believe physical activity is a necessary part of daily lifestyle (Burton, 2003). They may have other concerns (e.g., work, childcare, finances) that take priority.
  • Cost. Physical activity may be viewed as too expensive by many people (e.g., equipment, clothing, shoes, health club memberships) (Hoebeke, 2006).
  • Childcare. Some individuals with low-income may not have access to childcare or may not be able to afford to pay for additional childcare while being physically active (Hoebeke, 2006).
  • Access to resources. Some low-income communities may not have a place to go to be physically active (e.g., a park, a trail or a community center) (Keller, 2006).  In addition, lack of transportation options (e.g., personal car, public transit) may prevent individuals from accessing community spaces for physical activity (Hoebeke, 2006).
  • Safety concerns. Some low-income communities may believe they do not have a safe place to be physically active (Burton, 2003).  Safety may be related to interpersonal crime, traffic or hazardous equipment.
  • Lack of time. It may be more difficult for individuals with lower paying jobs and  childcare and housecleaning responsibilities to have the flexibility in terms of schedule to be able to figure out a time to be physically active (Hoebeke, 2006).  In addition, some individuals who are working in jobs that entail a great deal of physical labor (often lifting and strength related) may not see the importance of building in additional time for physical activity (that complements their job related physical activity with cardiovascular and stretching activity) (Fletcher, 2008). Many individuals and families struggle with juggling childcare and work responsibilities.

  Strategies to address these considerations:

  • Offer low-cost or free activities. It may be beneficial to work with community and recreational centers to offer low-cost or free interventions in the communities (e.g., sliding fee scale in health clubs, free activity classes in the community centers or walking or running clubs in public parks) (Sherwood, 2000).
  • Enhance the environment. When working in lower income communities it may be useful to focus on creating or improving environmental conditions to support active lifestyles (e.g., improve sidewalks, build walking trails, add streetlights or enhance the appearance of the area). In doing so, it may be useful to work with community partners to enhance existing resources or to build new resources.  Consider improving sidewalks and crossing aids to address traffic concerns.
  • Increase transportation options. It may be useful to work with the department of transportation to enhance or modify routes, or work with local churches or other community organizations that might be able to provide vans to and from different locations. 
  • Address safety concerns. There are several types of safety to consider.  For example, you might want to ensure that the equipment available is in good working order and safe for use.  It may also be important to consider interpersonal safety.  This might include creating buddy systems so people do not have to walk alone, working with local police, or creating neighborhood watch programs. 
  • Offer worksite programs. It may be useful to work with worksites to help to inform workers about the importance of different types of physical activity and to create policies that enable workers to build physical activity into their schedules.
  • Provide childcare. Consider providing free childcare while parents are attending physical activity programs and classes, or offering activities that involve the entire family (Hoebeke, 2006).

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