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Commuting by Public Transit and Physical Activity: Where You Live, Where You Work, and How You Get There

Ugo Lachapelle, Larry Frank, Brian E. Saelens, James F. Sallis, and Terry L. Conway

Background:

Most public transit users walk to and from transit. We analyzed the relationship between transit commuting and objectively measured physical activity.

Methods:

Adults aged 20 to 65 working outside the home (n = 1237) were randomly selected from neighborhoods in Seattle and Baltimore regions. Neighborhoods had high or low median income and high or low mean walkability. Mean daily minutes of accelerometer-measured moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA) were regressed on frequency of commuting by transit and neighborhood walkability, adjusting for demographic factors and enjoyment of physical activity. Interaction terms and stratification were used to assess moderating effect of walkability on the relation between transit commuting and MPA. Associations between transit commuting and self-reported days walked to destinations near home and work were assessed using Chi Square tests.

Results:

Regardless of neighborhood walkability, those commuting by transit accumulated more MPA (approximately 5 to 10 minutes) and walked more to services and destinations near home and near the workplace than transit nonusers. Enjoyment of physical activity was not associated with more transit commute, nor did it confound the relationships between MPA and commuting.

Conclusion:

Investments in infrastructure and service to promote commuting by transit could contribute to increased physical activity and improved health.

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Individual, Social, and Neighborhood Associations With Sitting Time Among Veterans

Rachel A. Millstein, Katherine D. Hoerster, Dori E. Rosenberg, Karin M. Nelson, Gayle Reiber, and Brian E. Saelens

Background:

Sedentary behavior is an increasingly recognized health risk factor, independent of physical activity. Although several correlates of sedentary behavior are known, little research has identified them among U.S. veterans, a population that faces disproportionate chronic disease burden.

Methods:

A survey was mailed to 1997 randomly selected veterans at a large urban Veterans Affairs medical center in 2012 and remailed in 2013 to nonresponders, resulting in a 40% response rate. We examined individual-, social-, and neighborhood-level factors in association with self-reported sitting time. Factors correlated with sitting time at P < .05 were included in a multiple linear regression model.

Results:

In the multivariate model, higher depression (B = 7.8), body mass index (B = 5.1), functional impairment (B = 4.2), and self-rated health (B = 68.5) were significantly associated with higher sitting time, and leisure time physical activity (B = –0.10) and being employed (B = –71.3) were significantly associated with lower sitting time.

Conclusions:

Individual-level, but not social- and neighborhood-level, variables were associated with sitting time in this population. This study identified individual-level targets for reducing sitting time and improving overall health among veterans.

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Evaluating a Brief Self-Report Measure of Neighborhood Environments for Physical Activity Research and Surveillance: Physical Activity Neighborhood Environment Scale (PANES)

James F. Sallis, Jacqueline Kerr, Jordan A. Carlson, Gregory J. Norman, Brian E. Saelens, Nefertiti Durant, and Barbara E. Ainsworth

Background:

Neighborhood environment attributes of walkability and access to recreation facilities have been related to physical activity and weight status, but most self-report environment measures are lengthy. The 17-item PANES (Physical Activity Neighborhood Environment Scale) was developed to be comprehensive but brief enough for use in multipurpose surveys. The current study evaluated test-retest and alternate-form reliability of PANES items compared with multi-item subscales from the longer NEWS-A (Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale—Abbreviated).

Methods:

Participants were 291 adults recruited from neighborhoods that varied in walkability in 3 US cities. Surveys were completed twice with a 27-day interval.

Results:

Test-retest ICCs for PANES items ranged from .52 to .88. Spearman correlations for the PANES single item vs NEWS-A subscale comparisons ranged from .27 to .81 (all P < .01).

Conclusions:

PANES items related to land use mix, residential density, pedestrian infrastructure, aesthetic qualities, and safety from traffic and crime were supported by correlations with NEWS-A subscales. Access to recreation facilities and street connectivity items were not supported. The brevity of PANES allows items to be included in studies or surveillance systems to expand knowledge about neighborhood environments.

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Measuring Physical Environments of Parks and Playgrounds: EAPRS Instrument Development and Inter-Rater Reliability

Brian E. Saelens, Lawrence D. Frank, Christopher Auffrey, Robert C. Whitaker, Hillary L. Burdette, and Natalie Colabianchi

Background:

Reliable and comprehensive measurement of physical activity settings is needed to examine environment-behavior relations.

Methods:

Surveyed park professionals (n = 34) and users (n = 29) identified park and playground elements (e.g., trail) and qualities (e.g., condition). Responses guided observational instrument development for environmental assessment of public recreation spaces (EAPRS). Item inter-rater reliability was evaluated following observations in 92 parks and playgrounds. Instrument revision and further reliability testing were conducted with observations in 21 parks and 20 playgrounds.

Results:

EAPRS evaluates trail/path, specific use (e.g., picnic), water-related, amenity (e.g., benches), and play elements, and their qualities. Most EAPRS items had good-excellent reliability, particularly presence/number items. Reliability improved from the original (n = 1088 items) to revised (n = 646 items) instrument for condition, coverage/shade, and openness/visibility items. Reliability was especially good for play features, but cleanliness items were generally unreliable.

Conclusions:

The EAPRS instrument provides comprehensive assessment of parks’ and playgrounds’ physical environment, with generally high reliability.

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Differences in Physical Activity Among Adults in Households With and Without Children

Jeanette I. Candelaria, James F. Sallis, Terry L. Conway, Brian E. Saelens, Lawrence D. Frank, and Donald J. Slymen

Background:

The study aim was to assess the relation of parent status to physical activity (PA) and the impact of parental roles, age and number of children on PA.

Methods:

Data for 909 women and 965 men, aged 20–57, were analyzed. Mixed Models were used to assess differences in PA between parents and adults without children, with analyses stratified by sex. The primary outcome was accelerometer-measured total daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA).

Results:

Parenthood was not related to MVPA, but mothers reported more total PA than nonmothers. For mothers and fathers, self-reported household activity was higher and sitting time lower, compared with nonparents. Both men and women with children aged 0–5 reported the highest household activity and the lowest sitting time, with household PA higher and sitting time lower with more children. There was no evidence that leisure, transport, or occupational activity varied by parenthood.

Conclusions:

Considering the potential impact of child-rearing on parent time demands, there was little difference in parents’ objectively measured MVPA compared with nonparents. Educational interventions or extracurricular programs for students and parents could target families with school-aged children. Development of tools to obtain parent reports of child care-specific PA behaviors would be useful.

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Relation of Adolescents’ Physical Activity to After-School Recreation Environment

Christina M. Thornton, Kelli L. Cain, Terry L. Conway, Jacqueline Kerr, Brian E. Saelens, Lawrence D. Frank, Karen Glanz, and James F. Sallis

Background:

The after-school period provides an opportune context for adolescent physical activity. This study examined how characteristics of after-school recreation environments related to adolescent physical activity.

Methods:

Participants were 889 adolescents aged 12 to 17 (mean = 14.1, SD = 1.4) from 2 US regions. Adolescents reported on whether their school offered after-school supervised physical activity, access to play areas/fields, and presence of sports facilities. Outcomes were accelerometer-measured after-school physical activity, reported physical activity on school grounds during nonschool hours, attainment of 60 minutes of daily physical activity excluding school physical education, and BMI-for-age z-score. Mixed regression models adjusted for study design, region, sex, age, ethnicity, vehicles/licensed drivers in household, and distance to school.

Results:

School environment variables were all significantly associated with self-reported physical activity on school grounds during non-school hours (P < .001) and attainment of 60 minutes of daily physical activity (P < .05). Adolescents’ accelerometer-measured after-school physical activity was most strongly associated with access to supervised physical activity (P = .008).

Conclusions:

Policies and programs that provide supervised after-school physical activity and access to play areas, fields, and sports facilities may help adolescents achieve daily physical activity recommendations.

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Reliability and Validity of CHAMPS Self-Reported Sedentary-to-Vigorous Intensity Physical Activity in Older Adults

Eric B. Hekler, Matthew P. Buman, William L. Haskell, Terry L. Conway, Kelli L. Cain, James F. Sallis, Brian E. Saelens, Lawrence D. Frank, Jacqueline Kerr, and Abby C. King

Background:

Recent research highlights the potential value of differentiating between categories of physical activity intensities as predictors of health and well-being. This study sought to assess reliability and concurrent validity of sedentary (ie, 1 METs), low-light (ie, >1 and ≤2 METs; eg, playing cards), high-light (ie, >2 and <3 METs; eg, light walking), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA, ≥3 METs), and “total activity” (≥2 METs) from the CHAMPS survey. Further, this study explored over-reporting and double-reporting.

Methods:

CHAMPS data were gathered from the Seniors Neighborhood Quality of Life Study, an observational study of adults aged 65+ years conducted in 2 US regions.

Results:

Participants (N = 870) were 75.3 ± 6.8 years old, with 56% women and 71% white. The CHAMPS sedentary, low-light, high-light, total activity, and MVPA variables had acceptable test-retest reliability (ICCs 0.56−0.70). The CHAMPS high-light (ρ = 0.27), total activity (ρ = 0.34), and MVPA (ρ = 0.37) duration scales were moderately associated with accelerometry minutes of corresponding intensity, and the sedentary scale (ρ = 0.12) had a lower, but significant correlation. Results suggested that several CHAMPS items may be susceptible to over-reporting (eg, walking, housework).

Conclusions:

CHAMPS items effectively measured high-light, total activity, and MVPA in seniors, but further refinement is needed for sedentary and low-light activity.

Open access

Results From the United States of America’s 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Kara D. Denstel, Kim Beals, Christopher Bolling, Carly Wright, Scott E. Crouter, Thomas L. McKenzie, Russell R. Pate, Brian E. Saelens, Amanda E. Staiano, Heidi I. Stanish, and Susan B. Sisson

Background:

The 2016 United States (U.S.) Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth provides a comprehensive evaluation of physical activity levels and factors influencing physical activity among children and youth.

Methods:

The report card includes 10 indicators: Overall Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, Active Transportation, Organized Sport Participation, Active Play, Health-related Fitness, Family and Peers, School, Community and the Built Environment, and Government Strategies and Investments. Nationally representative data were used to evaluate the indicators using a standard grading rubric.

Results:

Sufficient data were available to assign grades to 7 of the indicators, and these ranged from B- for Community and the Built Environment to F for Active Transportation. Overall Physical Activity received a grade of D- due to the low prevalence of meeting physical activity guidelines. A grade of D was assigned to Health-related Fitness, reflecting the low prevalence of meeting cardiorespiratory fitness standards. Disparities across age, gender, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups were observed for several indicators.

Conclusions:

Continued poor grades suggest that additional work is required to provide opportunities for U.S. children to be physically active. The observed disparities indicate that special attention should be given to girls, minorities, and those from lower socioeconomic groups when implementing intervention strategies.

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Results from the United States’ 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

Kara N. Dentro, Kim Beals, Scott E. Crouter, Joey C. Eisenmann, Thomas L. McKenzie, Russell R. Pate, Brian E. Saelens, Susan B. Sisson, Donna Spruijt-Metz, Melinda S. Sothern, and Peter T. Katzmarzyk

Background:

The National Physical Activity Plan Alliance partnered with physical activity experts to develop a report card that provides a comprehensive assessment of physical activity among United States children and youth.

Methods:

The 2014 U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth includes 10 indicators: overall physical activity levels, sedentary behaviors, active transportation, organized sport participation, active play, health-related fitness, family and peers, school, community and the built environment, and government strategies and investments. Data from nationally representative surveys were used to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the physical activity indicators. The Committee used the best available data source to grade the indicators using a standard rubric.

Results:

Approximately one-quarter of children and youth 6 to 15 years of age were at least moderately active for 60 min/day on at least 5 days per week. The prevalence was lower among youth compared with younger children, resulting in a grade of D- for overall physical activity levels. Five of the remaining 9 indicators received grades ranging from B- to F, whereas there was insufficient data to grade 4 indicators, highlighting the need for more research in some areas.

Conclusions:

Physical activity levels among U.S. children and youth are low and sedentary behavior is high, suggesting that current infrastructure, policies, programs, and investments in support of children’s physical activity are not sufficient.