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Genevieve F. Dunton, Michael Cousineau and Kim D. Reynolds

Background:

Policy strategies aimed at modifying aspects of the social, physical, economic, and educational environments have been proposed as potential solutions to the growing problem of physical inactivity. To develop effective physical activity policies in these and other areas, greater understanding of how and why policies successfully impact behavior change is needed.

Methods:

The current paper proposes a conceptual framework explaining how policy strategies map onto health behavior theoretical variables and processes thought to lead to physical activity change. This framework is used to make hypotheses about the potential effectiveness of different policy strategies.

Results:

Health behavior theories suggest that policies providing information may be particularly useful for individuals who are not yet considering or have only recently begun to consider becoming more physically active. Policies that provide opportunities may be less effective for individuals who do not find physical activity to be inherently fun and interesting. Policies that offer incentives or require the behavior may not be particularly useful at promoting long-term changes in physical activity.

Conclusion:

Exploring possible connections between policy strategies and theoretical constructs can help to clarify how each approach might work and for whom it may be the most appropriate to implement.

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Lesley Steinman, Mark Doescher, David Levinger, Cynthia Perry, Louise Carter, Amy Eyler, Semra Aytur, Angie L.I. Cradock, Kelly R. Evenson, Katie Heinrich, Jacqueline Kerr, Jill Litt, Yucel Severcan and Carolyn Voorhees

Background:

Recent research demonstrates the importance of targeting the built environment to support individual physical activity, particularly for people experiencing health disparities. Master plans to promote biking and/or pedestrians (BPMPs) are a potential method for environmental change. This descriptive study aims to provide a snapshot of plan attributes and better understand demographic, social and transportation characteristics of communities with BPMPs.

Methods:

We collected a census sample of BPMPs from 4 states. Population and commuting data were obtained from national statistics.

Results:

294 master plans were included, with most plans representing municipalities. 62% of plans targeted biking only, one-fifth targeted biking and walking, and 15% targeted walking only. The sampled locations have a similar demographic profile as the overall U.S. for median age and household income, people of color, high school education, and income inequality. The degree of racial diversity of sampled communities is slightly less than the U.S. average and the percentage of people who walk to work were slightly higher.

Conclusions:

Given that communities with master plans have a similar profile as the overall U.S., BPMPs could feasibly be spread to communities throughout the country. Further research is planned to describe BPMPs in detail toward informing future plan development.

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Kelly R. Evenson, Fang Wen, Sarah M. Lee, Katie M. Heinrich and Amy Eyler

Background:

A Healthy People 2010 developmental objective (22-12) was set to increase the proportion of the nation's public and private schools that provide access to their physical activity spaces and facilities for all persons outside of normal school hours. The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence of indoor and outdoor facilities at schools and the availability of those facilities to the public in 2000 and 2006.

Methods:

In 2000 and 2006, the School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) was conducted in each state and in randomly selected districts, schools, and classrooms. This analysis focused on the school level questionnaire from a nationally representative sample of public and nonpublic elementary, middle, and high schools (n = 921 in 2000 and n = 984 in 2006).

Results:

No meaningful changes in the prevalence of access to school physical activity facilities were found from 2000 to 2006, for youth or adult community sports teams, classes, or open gym.

Conclusions:

These national data indicate a lack of progress from 2000 and 2006 toward increasing the proportion of the nation's public and private schools that provide access to their physical activity facilities for all persons outside of normal school hours.

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Jimmy Newkirk

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Christine M. Hoehner, Ross C. Brownson, Diana Allen, James Gramann, Timothy K. Behrens, Myron F. Floyd, Jessica Leahy, Joseph B. Liddle, David Smaldone, Diara D. Spain, Daniel R. Tardona, Nicholas P. Ruthmann, Rachel L. Seiler and Byron W. Yount

Background:

We synthesized the results of 7 National Park Service pilot interventions designed to increase awareness of the health benefits from participation in recreation at national parks and to increase physical activity by park visitors.

Methods:

A content analysis was conducted of the final evaluation reports of the 7 participating parks. Pooled data were also analyzed from a standardized trail-intercept survey administered in 3 parks.

Results:

The theme of new and diverse partnerships was the most common benefit reported across the 7 sites. The 2 parks that focused on youth showed evidence of an increase in awareness of the benefits of physical activity. Many of the other sites found high levels of awareness at baseline (approaching 90%), suggesting little room for improvement. Five of the 7 projects showed evidence of an increase in physical activity that was associated with the intervention activities. Multivariate analyses suggested that the media exposure contributed to a small but significant increase in awareness of the importance of physical activity (6%) and number of active visits (7%).

Conclusions:

Enhancements and replication of these programs represents a promising opportunity for improving partnerships between public health and recreation to increase physical activity.

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Angie L.I. Cradock, Emily M. O'Donnell, Sara E. Benjamin, Elizabeth Walker and Meghan Slining

Background:

As interventions increasingly emphasize early child care settings, it is necessary to understand the state regulatory context that provides guidelines for outdoor physical activity and safety and sets standards for child care environments.

Methods:

Researchers reviewed regulations for child care facilities for 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. We compared state regulations with national standards for 17 physical activity- and safety-related items for outdoor playground settings outlined in Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care Programs (CFOC). State regulations were coded as fully, partially or not addressing the CFOC standard and state-level summary scores were calculated.

Results:

On average, state regulations fully addressed one-third of 17 CFOC standards in regulations for centers (34%) and family child care homes (27%). Data suggest insufficient attention to outdoor play area proximity and size, equipment height, surfacing, and inspections.

Conclusions:

Considerable variation exists among state regulations related to physical activity promotion and injury prevention within outdoor play areas. Many states' regulations do not comply with published national health and safety standards. Enhancing regulations is one component of a policy approach to promoting safe, physically active child care settings.

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Joe Manchin III

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Amy Eyler, Ross Brownson, Tom Schmid and Michael Pratt

With increasing evidence of the detrimental effects of physical inactivity, there is interest in enhancing research on policies that may influence physical activity in communities. Given the potential policy impact, a framework that organized and conceptualized policy interventions and priorities for public health efforts to promote physical activity was developed. In addition, the Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN) was formed as a way to operationalize the contents of the framework. Recommendations for future work in this area include enhancing transdisciplinary collaborations, raising the priority of policy evaluation, studying policies at all levels, and emphasizing dissemination of findings.