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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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Anna E. Mathews, Delores Pluto, Olga Ogoussan and Jorge Banda

Background:

When promoting active travel to school, it is important to consider school and district policies as well as attitudes of school and district administrators.

Methods:

School principals and district officials in South Carolina participated in the School Travel Survey. Frequency distributions and Chi-squared tests were used to analyze the data.

Results:

Three hundred fourteen persons responded to the survey (53.2% response rate). Sixty-five percent of district officials reported having a clear position about students walking to school, 80.0% of which were supportive. Seventy-two percent of principals reported having a clear position about walking to school, 67% of which were supportive. These positions were most commonly communicated either orally or through memos or other written documentation rather than through official, written policies or directives. Respondents who personally supported walking to school were more likely to believe that walking to school benefited students' health (χ2 = 8.82, df = 1, P = .003) and academic performance (χ2 = 14.87, df = 1, P < .0001).

Conclusions:

Promotion of walking to school should encourage schools and districts to develop official, written directives or policies. Promotional efforts may benefit from linking active travel to academic performance and health.

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Amy Eyler, Tina Lankford, Jamie Chriqui, Kelly R. Evenson, Judy Kruger, Nancy Tompkins, Carolyn Voorhees, Susan Zieff, Semra Aytur and Ross Brownson

Background:

Trails provide opportunities for recreation, transportation and activity. The purpose of this article is to describe state legislation related to community trails, to analyze legislation content, and to evaluate legislation on inclusion of evidence-informed elements.

Methods:

State trail legislation from 2001 to 2008 was identified using online legislative databases. An analysis of evidence-informed elements included in the legislation was conducted. These elements included: funding, liability, accessibility, connectivity, and maintenance.

Results:

Of the total 991 trail bills, 516 (52.0%) were appropriations bills, of which 167 (32.2%) were enacted. We analyzed 475 (48%) nonappropriation trail bills of which 139 (29.3%) were enacted. The percentage of enactment of appropriations bills decreased over time while enactment of nonappropriations trail bills increased. Over half of the nonappropriations trail bills included at least 1 evidence-informed element, most commonly funding. Few bills contained liability, connectivity, accessibility, or maintenance.

Conclusions:

There is opportunity for providing evidence-informed information to policy-makers to potentially influence bill content. The number of bills with a funding element demonstrates that fiscal support for trails is an important policy lever that state legislatures may use to support trails. Lastly, trails should be considered in over-all state-level physical activity legislation to provide opportunities for communities to be active.

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Gavin Newsom

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Katherine A. Stamatakis, Timothy D. McBride and Ross C. Brownson

Background:

While effective interventions to promote physical activity have been identified, efforts to translate these interventions into policy have lagged behind. To improve the translation of evidence into policy, researchers and public health practitioners need to consider new ways for communicating health promoting messages to state and local policymakers.

Methods:

In this article, we describe issues related to the translation of evidence supporting physical activity promotion, and offer some communication approaches and tools that are likely to be beneficial in translating research to policy.

Results:

We discuss the use of narrative (ie, stories) and describe its potential role in improving communication of research in policy-making settings. In addition, we provide an outline for the development and design of policy briefs on physical activity, and for how to target these briefs effectively to policy-oriented audiences.

Conclusions:

Improvements in researchers' and practitioners' abilities to translate the evidence they generate into high-quality materials for policy makers can greatly enhance efforts to enact policies that promote physical activity.