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Sara Wilcox, Melinda Forthofer, Patricia A. Sharpe and Brent Hutto

Background:

Walking interventions delivered by lay leaders have been shown to be effective. Knowing the characteristics of individuals who volunteer to be group leaders in walking programs could facilitate more efficient and effective recruitment and training.

Methods:

Walking group leaders were recruited into a community-based program and formed walking groups from existing social networks. Leaders and members completed a survey, participated in physical measurements, and wore an accelerometer. Regression models (adjusting for group clustering and covariates) tested psychosocial and behavioral differences between leaders and members.

Results:

The sample included 296 adults (86% women, 66% African American). Leaders (n = 60) were similar to members (n = 236) with respect to most sociodemographic and health characteristics, but were significantly older and more likely to report arthritis and high cholesterol (P-values < .05). Although leaders and members were similar in sedentary behavior and physical activity, leaders reported higher levels of exercise self-regulation, self-efficacy, and social support (P-values < .01). Leaders also reported greater use of outdoor trails (P = .005) and other outdoor recreation areas (P = .003) for physical activity than members.

Conclusion:

Although walking group leaders were no more active than members, leaders did display psychosocial characteristics and behaviors consistent with a greater readiness for change.

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Hayley E. Christian, Charlotte D. Klinker, Karen Villanueva, Matthew W. Knuiman, Sarah A. Foster, Stephan R. Zubrick, Mark Divitini, Lisa Wood and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

Relationships between context-specific measures of the physical and social environment and children’s independent mobility to neighborhood destination types were examined.

Methods:

Parents in RESIDE’s fourth survey reported whether their child (8–15 years; n = 181) was allowed to travel without an adult to school, friend’s house, park and local shop. Objective physical environment measures were matched to each of these destinations. Social environment measures included neighborhood perceptions and items specific to local independent mobility.

Results:

Independent mobility to local destinations ranged from 30% to 48%. Independent mobility to a local park was less likely as the distance to the closest park (small and large size) increased and less likely with additional school grounds (P < .05). Independent mobility to school was less likely as the distance to the closest large park increased and if the neighborhood was perceived as unsafe (P < .05). Independent mobility to a park or shops decreased if parenting social norms were unsupportive of children’s local independent movement (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Independent mobility appears dependent upon the specific destination being visited and the impact of neighborhood features varies according to the destination examined. Findings highlight the importance of access to different types and sizes of urban green space for children’s independent mobility to parks.

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Meghan Baruth, Sara Wilcox, Cheryl Der Ananian and Sue Heiney

Background:

Adjuvant treatment for breast cancer may result in long-lasting, adverse emotional and physical side effects, and reduce quality of life (QOL). This pilot study examined the effects of a home-based walking program on QOL and fatigue in early stage breast cancer survivors and whether changes in walking behavior were associated with changes in outcomes.

Methods:

Participants (n = 32) were randomized to a 12-week home-based walking intervention plus brief telephone counseling (n = 20) or a wait-list control group (n = 12). Self-reported fatigue, QOL, and walking were assessed at baseline and 12-weeks. Results are presented as effect sizes.

Results:

Participants in the intervention had improvements in a majority of fatigue and QOL outcomes, whereas the control group had no change or worsened in many; effect sizes were generally in the small to medium range. Changes in fatigue/QOL outcomes were associated with changes in walking behavior, with effects generally in the small to medium range.

Conclusion:

Home-based physical activity (walking) programs may be an appropriate avenue for alleviating the adverse side effects that often accompany adjuvant treatment for breast cancer. These programs have potential for widespread dissemination, which may have considerable impact on the quality of life of women recently completing breast cancer treatment.

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Aubrianne E. Rote, Lori A. Klos, Michael J. Brondino, Amy E. Harley and Ann M. Swartz

Background:

Facebook may be a useful tool to provide a social support group to encourage increases in physical activity. This study examines the efficacy of a Facebook social support group to increase steps/day in young women.

Methods:

Female college freshmen (N = 63) were randomized to one of two 8-week interventions: a Facebook Social Support Group (n = 32) or a Standard Walking Intervention (n = 31). Participants in both groups received weekly step goals and tracked steps/day with a pedometer. Women in the Facebook Social Support Group were also enrolled in a Facebook group and asked to post information about their steps/day and provide feedback to one another.

Results:

Women in both intervention arms significantly increased steps/day pre- to postintervention (F (8,425) = 94.43, P < .001). However, women in the Facebook Social Support Group increased steps/day significantly more (F (1,138) = 11.34, P < .001) than women in the Standard Walking Intervention, going from 5295 to 12,472 steps/day.

Conclusions:

These results demonstrate the potential effectiveness of using Facebook to offer a social support group to increase physical activity in young women. Women in the Facebook Social Support Group increased walking by approximately 1.5 miles/day more than women in the Standard Walking Intervention which, if maintained, could have a profound impact on their future health.

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Jesus Soares, Jacqueline N. Epping, Chantelle J. Owens, David R. Brown, Tina J. Lankford, Eduardo J. Simoes and Carl J. Caspersen

Background:

We aimed to determine the likelihood that adult dog owners who walk their dogs will achieve a healthy level of moderate-intensity (MI) physical activity (PA), defined as at least 150 mins/wk.

Methods:

We conducted a systematic search of 6 databases with data from 1990–2012 on dog owners’ PA, to identify those who achieved MIPA. To compare dog-walkers’ performance with non-dog walkers, we used a random effects model to estimate the unadjusted odds ratio (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results:

We retrieved 9 studies that met our inclusion criterion and allowed OR calculations. These yielded data on 6980 dog owners aged 18 to 81 years (41% men). Among them, 4463 (63.9%) walked their dogs. Based on total weekly PA, 2710 (60.7%) dog walkers, and 950 (37.7%) non-dog walkers achieved at least MIPA. The estimated OR was 2.74 (95% CI 2.09–3.60).

Conclusion:

Across 9 published studies, almost 2 in 3 dog owners reported walking their dogs, and the walkers are more than 2.5 times more likely to achieve at least MIPA. These findings suggest that dog walking may be a viable strategy for dog owners to help achieve levels of PA that may enhance their health.

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Carmen D. Harris, Prabasaj Paul, Xingyou Zhang and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

Fewer than 30% of U.S. youth meet the recommendation to be active > 60 minutes/day. Access to parks may encourage higher levels of physical activity.

Purpose:

To examine differences in park access among U.S. school-age youth, by demographic characteristics and urbanicity of block group.

Methods:

Park data from 2012 were obtained from TomTom, Incorporated. Population data were obtained from the 2010 U.S. Census and American Community Survey 2006–2010. Using a park access score for each block group based on the number of national, state or local parks within one-half mile, we examined park access among youth by majority race/ethnicity, median household income, median education, and urbanicity of block groups.

Results:

Overall, 61.3% of school-age youth had park access—64.3% in urban, 36.5% in large rural, 37.8% in small rural, and 35.8% in isolated block groups. Park access was higher among youth in block groups with higher median household income and higher median education.

Conclusion:

Urban youth are more likely to have park access. However, park access also varies by race/ethnicity, median education, and median household. Considering both the demographics and urbanicity may lead to better characterization of park access and its association with physical activity among youth.

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Shifan Dai, Dianna D. Carroll, Kathleen B. Watson, Prabasaj Paul, Susan A. Carlson and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

Information on specific types of physical activities in which US adults participate is important for community and program development to promote physical activity.

Methods:

Prevalence of participation and average time spent for 33 leisuretime aerobic activities and 10 activity categories were calculated using self-reported data from 22,545 participants aged ≥ 18 years in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2006.

Results:

Overall, 38% of US adults reported no leisure-time physical activities, and 43% reported 1 or 2 activities in the past 30 days. Walking was the most frequently reported activity for both men (29%) and women (38%). Among walkers, the average time spent walking was 198 minutes/week for men and 152 minutes/week for women. The most reported activities for men after walking were bicycling and yard work, and for women were aerobics and dance. For most activity categories, participation was lower among adults aged ≥ 65 years than among younger adults, and among Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites. Participation in most categories increased with increasing educational attainment.

Conclusions:

Participation in physical activity differs by types of activities and demographic characteristics. Physical activity promotion programs should take these differences into account when developing intervention strategies.

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MinKyoung Song, Dianna D. Carroll, Sarah M. Lee and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines recommend youth participate in a variety of physical activities; however, few nationally representative studies describe the types and variety of youth activity. This study assessed the most frequently reported types and variety of activities among U.S. high school students, and examined the association between variety and meeting the 2008 Guidelines for aerobic activity (aerobic guideline).

Methods:

We analyzed data on 8628 U.S. high school students in grades 9–12 from the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey. Types of physical activity were assessed by identifying which activities each student reported in the past 7 days. Variety was assessed by the total number of different activities each student reported. Percentage (95% CI) of students who reported engaging in each activity was assessed. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between variety and meeting the aerobic guideline.

Results:

Walking was the most frequently reported activity among U.S. high school students. On average, students reported participating in 6 different activities. Variety was positively associated with meeting the aerobic guideline.

Conclusions:

These findings support encouraging youth to participate in many physical activities and may be useful for developing interventions that focus on the most prevalent activities.

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Michelle C. Kegler, Iris Alcantara, Regine Haardörfer, Alexandra Gemma, Denise Ballard and Julie Gazmararian

Background:

Physical activity levels, including walking, are lower in the southern U.S., particularly in rural areas. This study investigated the concept of rural neighborhood walkability to aid in developing tools for assessing walkability and to identify intervention targets in rural communities.

Methods:

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with physically active adults (n = 29) in rural Georgia. Mean age of participants was 55.9 years; 66% were male, 76% were white, and 24% were African American. Participants drew maps of their neighborhoods and discussed the relevance of typical domains of walkability to their decisions to exercise. Comparative analyses were conducted to identify major themes.

Results:

The majority felt the concept of neighborhood was applicable and viewed their neighborhood as small geographically (less than 0.5 square miles). Sidewalks were not viewed as essential for neighborhood-based physical activity and typical destinations for walking were largely absent. Destinations within walking distance included neighbors’ homes and bodies of water. Views were mixed on whether shade, safety, dogs, and aesthetics affected decisions to exercise in their neighborhoods.

Conclusions:

Measures of neighborhood walkability in rural areas should acknowledge the small size of self-defined neighborhoods, that walking in rural areas is likely for leisure time exercise, and that some domains may not be relevant.

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Courtney Coughenour and Timothy J. Bungum

Background:

Neighborhood walkability is being promoted as an important factor in public health efforts to decrease rates of physical inactivity. Single entry communities (SEC), communities with only 1 entrance/exit, may result in an over estimation of walkability. This design makes direct walking routes outside the community nearly impossible and results in increased trip distance. The purpose of this study was to determine if accounting for SECs resulted in a significant difference in street connectivity.

Methods:

Twenty geographically different Las Vegas neighborhoods were chosen and the number of true intersections measured in ArcGIS. Neighborhoods were then assessed for the presence of SECs using google maps, ArcGIS land imagery, and field observation. Intersections inside SECs were removed. A paired t test was used to assess the mean difference of intersection density before and after adjustment.

Results:

There was a statistically significant decrease in the number of true intersections after the adjustment (before mean = 57.8; after mean = 45.7). The eta squared statistic indicates a large effect size (0.3).

Conclusions:

Single entry communities result in an over estimation of street connectivity. If SECs are not accounted for, trip distances will be underestimated and public health efforts to promote walking through walkable neighborhoods may prove less effective.