Urbanisation and Physical Activity in Mexico

  • Maria Hermosillo Gallardo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Low levels of physical activity are a global public health issue. Along with prolonged bouts of sitting, low physical activity is associated with an increase in the risk of noncommunicable diseases. Approximately 17.4% of adults and 39.5% of adolescents in Mexico do not meet the World Health Organization’s recommended level of physical activity. Urbanisation is a potential correlate of physical activity that, at this moment, remains under-researched. The aim of this thesis was to study the association between physical activity in Mexico and two aspects of urbanisation: urbanicity and perception of safety.

In this thesis, the urbanicity was estimated using the measure developed by Novak et al. (2012). The first study used physical activity data from the Mexican 2012 National Health and Nutrition Survey and multivariable linear regression models to examine the association between physical activity and urbanicity. The characteristics of urbanicity that were negatively associated with physical activity were population size, economic activity, diversity and communication. The second and third studies, were based on a primary data collection from 4,079 Mexican adolescents. The second study investigated the associations between urbanicity and physical activity. Results showed negative associations between physical activity and communication-based urbanicity; and positive associations with overall urbanicity and population density. The third study investigated the association of physical activity with perception of safety; finding that lower perception of pedestrian safety was associated with lower physical activity amongst females.

Findings from this thesis demonstrated there is an association between urbanisation and physical activity in Mexico. Also, it gave an insight of the complexity of these associations, being different between adults and adolescents, between gender, state, and type of physical activity; highlighting the value of examining urbanicity as a multidimensional construct. The findings highlight that urbanisation should be considered in efforts to increase physical activity levels in developing countries.
Date of Award6 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorSimon Sebire (Supervisor) & Russ Jago (Supervisor)

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