Perception vs Reality: Is Perceived or Objective Proximity to Physical Activity Opportunities in the Environment More Associated With Recent Use Among Adolescent Girls?

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 University of Minnesota
  • 2 Temple University
  • 3 Duke University
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Little is known about adolescent girls’ accuracy of perception of physical activity (PA) opportunities in their neighborhood. Furthermore, few studies have explored whether proximity to PA opportunities is associated with girls’ recent use. Participants included 356 high school girls enrolled in New Moves, a school-based physical activity intervention. Objective proximity to neighborhood PA opportunities was assessed using Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Girls self-reported their perceived proximity to resources and recent use of these opportunities. Girls’ perceived proximity of distance to a park, walking/biking trail, and recreational center was associated with recent use of these resources (P = .02, P < .001, P < .001, respectively), whereas associations were not found with objective measures of distance. Both perceived and objective proximity were associated with recent use of a private fitness facility (P = .006 and P = .002, respectively). Perceived proximity to neighborhood PA opportunities is associated with use of those resources among adolescent girls. Increasing awareness of neighborhood opportunities could be a viable method to increasing PA.

Barr-Anderson is with the College of Education and Human Development, School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Bauer is with the Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Hannan and Neumark-Sztainer are with the School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Story is with Community & Family Medicine and Global Health Duke University, Durham, NC.

Address author correspondence to Daheia Barr-Anderson at barra027@umn.edu.