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Eboneé N. Butler, Anita M.H. Ambs, Jill Reedy and Heather R. Bowles

Background:

Examining relationships between features of the built environment and physical activity is achievable with geographic information systems technology (GIS). The purpose of this paper is to review the literature to identify GIS measures that can be considered for inclusion in national public health surveillance efforts. In the absence of a universally agreed upon framework that integrates physical, social, and cultural aspects of the environment, we used a multidimensional model of access to synthesize the literature.

Methods:

We identified 29 studies published between 2005 and 2009 with physical activity outcomes that included 1 or more built environment variables measured using GIS. We sorted built environment measures into 5 dimensions of access: accessibility, availability, accommodation, affordability, and acceptability.

Results:

Geospatial land-use data, street network data, environmental audits, and commercial databases can be used to measure the availability, accessibility, and accommodation dimensions of access. Affordability and acceptability measures rely on census and self-report data.

Conclusions:

GIS measures have been included in studies investigating the built environment and physical activity, although few have examined more than 1 construct of access. Systematic identification and collection of relevant GIS measures can facilitate collaboration and accelerate the advancement of research on the built environment and physical activity.

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Kathryn M. Parker, Jeanette Gustat and Janet C. Rice

Background:

People are more physically active in neighborhoods that are well designed for walking and bicycling. Building infrastructure for safer cycling is one way to promote physical activity. On-road bike lanes are one type of infrastructure hypothesized to positively impact levels of cycling. The first on-street bike lane was painted in New Orleans, LA during the spring of 2008.

Methods:

In November of 2007 and again in November 2008, trained observers conducted manual counts of cyclists riding on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans, LA. The data collected included the number of men, women, adults, and children riding a bicycle with traffic, against traffic, and on sidewalks.

Results:

Data showed a 57% increase in the average number of riders per day (P < .001). There was a 133% increase among adult female riders (P < .001) and a 44% increase among adult male riders (P < .001). The percentage of cyclists riding in the correct direction, with the flow of traffic, increased from 73% to 82% (P < .001).

Conclusions:

Bike lanes can have a positive impact in creating a healthy physical environment. Future research should include other streets for comparison purposes and surveys to determine whether riders are substituting biking for nonactive forms of transportation.

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Jonathan M. Casper, Jason N. Bocarro, Michael A. Kanters and Myron F. Floyd

Background:

Organized sport is viewed as a viable medium for promoting more physical activity among youth. However, participation in youth sport declines significantly among both boys and girls during their middle school years. This study examined middle school students’ perceived constraints to sport participation.

Methods:

Middle school students from 4 schools (6th−8th grade, N = 2465) completed a web based survey (97.3% response rate). Descriptive analysis, t tests, and ANOVA were used to assess extent of perceived constraints and differences among demographic and sport participation level subgroups.

Results:

The most salient constraint perceived by respondents was time, while knowledge was perceived as the lowest among the overall sample. Significant (P < .01) differences in perceived constraints were found among all comparisons groups. Girls, Latinos, lower SES students, and students who did not play sports reported more constraints than respective comparisons groups.

Discussion:

The sociodemographic characteristics of middle school students appear to be a significant factor in their perception of constraints to sport participation. Identifying constraints associated with sport participation can enable policy-makers and administrators to be more deliberate in channeling resources.

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Rebecca E. Lee, Scherezade K. Mama, Kristen P. McAlexander, Heather Adamus and Ashley V. Medina

Background:

In the US, public housing developments are typically located in lower socioeconomic status neighborhoods that may have poorer quality street level conditions, placing residents in neighborhoods that are less supportive for physical activity (PA). This study investigated the relationship of detailed, objectively assessed street-level pedestrian features with self-reported and measured PA in African American public housing residents.

Methods:

Every street segment (N = 2093) within an 800 m radius surrounding each housing development (N = 12) was systematically assessed using the Pedestrian Environment Data Scan (PEDS). Participants completed an interviewer administered International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) Short Form and wore a pedometer for 1 week.

Results:

Women reported significantly less vigorous (mean = 1955 vs. 2896 METs), moderate (mean = 733 vs. 1309 mets), walking (mean = 1080 vs. 1376 METs), and total (mean = 3768 vs. 5581 METs) PA on the IPAQ compared with men (all P <.05). Women took fewer pedometer steps per day (M = 3753 vs. 4589) compared with men, but this was not statistically significant. Regression analyses showed that for women, lower speed limits were associated with vigorous; higher street segment density was associated with more moderate PA; lower speed limits, fewer crossing aids, and more lanes were associated with more walking; and, fewer lanes was associated with more overall PA. For men, fewer sidewalk connections were associated with more moderate PA; lower speed limits were associated with more walking; and, lower speed limits was associated with more overall PA.

Conclusions:

Neighborhood factors influence physical activity; in particular, lower speed limits appear most commonly linked with increased physical activity in both men and women.

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Meg Cheever

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Genevieve F. Dunton, Yue Liao, Stephen Intille, Jennifer Wolch and Mary Ann Pentz

Background:

This study used real-time electronic surveys delivered through mobile phones, known as Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), to determine whether level and experience of leisure-time physical activity differ across children’s physical and social contexts.

Methods:

Children (N = 121; ages 9 to 13 years; 52% male, 32% Hispanic/Latino) participated in 4 days (Fri.–Mon.) of EMA during nonschool time. Electronic surveys (20 total) assessed primary activity (eg, active play/sports/exercise), physical location (eg, home, outdoors), social context (eg, friends, alone), current mood (positive and negative affect), and enjoyment. Responses were time-matched to the number of steps and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; measured by accelerometer) in the 30 minutes before each survey.

Results:

Mean steps and MVPA were greater outdoors than at home or at someone else’s house (all P < .05). Steps were greater with multiple categories of company (eg, friends and family together) than with family members only or alone (all P < .05). Enjoyment was greater outdoors than at home or someone else’s house (all P < .05). Negative affect was greater when alone and with family only than friends only (all P < .05).

Conclusion:

Results describing the value of outdoor and social settings could inform context-specific interventions in this age group.

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Susan A. Carlson, Roxanna Guide, Thomas L. Schmid, Latetia V. Moore, Danielle T. Barradas and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

Street-scale urban design policies are recommended to increase physical activity in communities. Our purpose was to examine U.S. public support for local street-scale urban design features and policies.

Methods:

Analysis is based on a cross-sectional national sample of adults (n = 4682) participating in the 2006 HealthStyles mail survey.

Results:

About 57% of adults rated local street-scale urban design as highly important in determining the amount of physical activity they obtain. Adjusted odds of rating neighborhood features as having high importance were higher in people aged ≥65 years versus those <65 and minority racial/ethnic groups versus non-Hispanic whites. Two-thirds of adults were willing to take civic action to support local street-scale urban design policy. Adjusted odds of being willing to take any action versus none was higher in non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics versus non-Hispanic whites, was higher in those with household incomes ≥$60,000 versus ≤$15,000 per year, and increased as education and perceived importance of neighborhood features increased.

Conclusions:

There are high levels of public support for local street-scale urban design policies; however, demographic differences exist in the level of support. These differences are important considerations for policymakers and for those designing community programs targeting street-scale urban design features and policies.

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Jennifer Dill and Deborah Howe

Background:

Research has established that built environments, including street networks, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and land uses, can positively affect the frequency and duration of daily physical activity. Attention is now being given to policy frameworks such as zoning codes that set the standards and expectations for this built environment.

Methods:

We examined the adoption and implementation of mixed-use and related zoning provisions with specific attention to the role that physical activity serves as a motivation for such policies and to what extent public health agencies influence the adoption process. A sample of planning directors from 53 communities with outstanding examples of mixed-use developments and 145 randomly selected midsized communities were surveyed.

Results:

Physical activity is not a dominant motivator in master plans and/or zoning codes and public health agencies played minor roles in policy adoption. However, physical activity as a motivation appears to be increasing in recent years and is associated with higher levels of policy innovation.

Conclusions:

Recommendations include framing the importance of physical activity in terms of other dominant concerns such as livability, dynamic centers, and economic development. Health agencies are encouraged to work in coalitions to focus arguments on behalf of physical activity.

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Virginia Rall Chomitz, Denise Burke Aske, Julia McDonald, Howard Cabral and Karen Ann Hacker

Background:

There is growing recognition of the importance of recreational space utilization for promoting physical activity (PA) among youth.

Methods:

An cross-sectional study was conducted with a sample of 926 diverse 6th-8th grade students in Somerville, MA. Participants completed the 2007 Youth Risk Surveillance Survey (YRBS). Chi-square testing and logistical regression modeling were performed to predict meeting national PA recommendations for moderate, vigorous, and 60 minutes or more (60+) PA.

Results:

The participants reported meeting recommended PA levels for moderate (27%), vigorous (70%) and 60+ (21%) PA. In multivariate analysis, being male and speaking English were significantly associated with meeting all 3 PA recommendations. Recreational spaces significantly associated with meeting PA recommendations included neighborhood parks and walk/bike paths, playing fields and courts, and recreational centers. Recreational space utilization varied by gender, race/ethnicity, and language.

Conclusions:

Recreational space utilization was an important predictor of meeting PA recommendations among middle school students. Our results showed that PA attainment and recreational space utilization varied by demographic characteristics. The role of each recreational space in predicting PA varied depending on the outcome used. This study demonstrates the potential use of YRBS data to inform resource allocation for PA promotion in diverse communities.