Physical Activity Profiles and Perceived Environmental Determinants in New Zealand: A National Cross-Sectional Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

A minority of adults in developed countries engage in sufficient physical activity (PA) to achieve health benefits. This study aims to identify modifiable perceived resources and barriers to PA among New Zealand adults.

Methods:

Secondary analysis of a 2003 nationally representative cross-sectional mail survey, stratified by region, age, and ethnicity, and analyzed utilizing ordinal logistic regression.

Results:

Overall, n = 8038 adults responded to the survey, of whom 49% met updated guidelines for sufficient PA. Perceived accessibility of local resources was associated with PA; however, for some resources there was more awareness among individuals whose predominant activity was not commonly associated with that resource (eg, health clubs and walkers). Perceived local environmental barriers demonstrated negative (steep hills, crime, dogs) and positive (unmaintained footpaths) associations. The absence of perceived environmental barriers was strongly associated with increased activity, suggesting the number of barriers may be a critical factor.

Conclusion:

Complex relationships between perceptions of local environments and activity patterns among adults were found. Although complex, these results demonstrate positive associations between awareness of resources and perceived lack of barriers with being sufficiently physically active for health. Therefore, investments in provision and/or promotion of local resources have the potential to enable active healthy communities.

The authors are with the Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NZ. Garrett and Schofield are with the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research. Schluter is with the School of Public Health & Psychosocial Studies.

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