Men outperform women in sports requiring muscular strength and/or endurance, but the relative influence of “nurture” versus “nature” remains difficult to quantify. Performance gaps between elite men and women are well documented using world records in second, centimeter, or kilogram sports. However, this approach is biased by global disparity in reward structures and opportunities for women. Despite policies enhancing female participation (Title IX legislation), US women only closed performance gaps by 2% and 5% in Olympic Trial swimming and running, respectively, from 1972 to 1980 (with no change thereafter through 2016). Performance gaps of 13% in elite middistance running and 8% in swimming (∼4-min duration) remain, the 5% differential between sports indicative of load carriage disadvantages of higher female body fatness in running. Conversely, sprint swimming exhibits a greater sex difference than sprint running, suggesting anthropometric/power advantages unique to swim-block starts. The ∼40-y plateau in the performance gap suggests a persistent dominance of biological influences (eg, longer limb levers, greater muscle mass, greater aerobic capacity, and lower fat mass) on performance. Current evidence suggests that women will not swim or run as fast as men in Olympic events, which speaks against eliminating sex segregation in these individual sports. Whether hormone reassignment sufficiently levels the playing field in Olympic sports for transgender females (born and socialized male) remains an issue to be tackled by sport-governing bodies.
Mindy Millard-Stafford, Ann E. Swanson and Matthew T. Wittbrodt
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
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.
We collected a census sample of BPMPs from 4 states. Population and commuting data were obtained from national statistics.
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.
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.
Arlene E. Hall
This study is an examintion of the effects of race and income on leisure-time physical activity among women (n = 116). Perceived benefits of and barriers to participating in leisure-time physical activity were also compared. A regression model utilizing social cognitive variables was used to explore factors which may predict physical activity participation. No significant differences emerged between the groups regarding the amount of physical activity they reported either by race or socioeconomic status. Time expenditure emerged significantly different by race (p < .001) and income (p < .000); middle-income women reported time as a barrier more than lower-income women and Whites were likelier to report time as a barrier more than Blacks. Middle-income women perceived greater (p < .01) physical performance benefits from exercise than lower-income women. Social interaction, time expenditure, and body mass index were the strongest predictors of physical activity. The data and findings could be useful for increaseing our understanding of economic and racial disparities in physical activity participation and garnish information for use in constructing interven programs.
Benjamin D. Hickerson and Karla A. Henderson
Youth summer camp programs have the potential to provide opportunities for physical activity, but little to no research has been conducted to determine activity levels of campers. This study aimed to examine physical activity occurring in day and resident summer camps and how activity levels differed in these camps based upon demographic characteristics.
Pedometer data were collected during hours of camp operation from 150 day campers and 114 resident campers between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. Independent t tests were used to compare physical activity by sex, race, and Body Mass Index.
Campers at day camps averaged 11,916 steps per camp day, while resident campers averaged 19,699 steps per camp day. Day campers averaged 1586 steps per hour over 7.5 hour days and resident campers averaged 1515 steps per hour over 13 hour days. Male sex, Caucasian race, and normal Body Mass Index were significant correlates of more physical activity.
Youth summer camps demonstrate the potential to provide ample opportunities for physical activity during the summer months. Traditional demographic disparities persisted in camps, but the structure of camp programs should allow for changes to increase physical activity for all participants.
David W. Brock, Olivia Thomas, Charles D. Cowan, David B. Allison, Glenn A. Gaesser and Gary R. Hunter
Numerous public health organizations have adopted national physical activity recommendations. Despite these recommendations, over half of the US population does not meet the minimum recommendation for physical activity, with large variations across individual US states.
Using the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) prevalence data for physical activity and obesity by state, we performed a weighted least squares regression using prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) as the dependent variable and insufficiently physically active (included completely sedentary), age, race, gender, and median household income as the independent variables.
The unadjusted weighted least squares regression revealed a strong correlation between a state’s prevalence of obesity and the prevalence of insufficiently physically active (R = .76, R 2 = .58, P < .0001). After adjusting for age, gender, race, and median household income, the prevalence of insufficiently physically active is still a significant predictor of the state prevalence of obesity (partial R = .44, R 2 = .19 P = .004).
Macroenvironmental and sociopolitical disparities between individual US states that transcend simple state-level demographic factors need to be examined more rigorously to identify unique barriers and promoters of physical activity.
Esther Rind and Andy Jones
At the population level, the prevalence of physical activity has declined considerably in many developed countries in recent decades. There is some evidence that areas exhibiting the lowest activity levels are those which have undergone a particularly strong transition away from employment in physically demanding occupations. We propose that processes of deindustrialization may be causally linked to unexplained geographical disparities in levels of physical activity. While the sociocultural correlates of physical activity have been well studied, and prior conceptual frameworks have been developed to explain more general patterns of activity, none have explicitly attempted to identify the components of industrial change that may impact physical activity.
In this work we review the current literature on sociocultural correlates of health behaviors before using a case study centered on the United Kingdom to present a novel framework that links industrial change to declining levels of physical activity.
We developed a comprehensive model linking sociocultural correlates of physical activity to processes associated with industrial restructuring and discuss implication for policy and practice.
A better understanding of sociocultural processes may help to ameliorate adverse health consequences of employment decline in communities that have experienced substantial losses of manual employment.
Michael B. Edwards and George Cunningham
Racial health disparities are more pronounced among older adults. Few studies have examined how racism influences health behaviors. This study’s purpose was to examine how opportunities for physical activity (PA) and community racism are associated with older racial minorities’ reported engagement in PA. We also investigated how PA levels influenced health.
We analyzed survey data obtained from a health assessment conducted in 3360 households in Texas, USA, which included items pertaining to PA, community characteristics, and health.
Our sample contained 195 women and 85 men (mean age 70.16), most of whom were African American. We found no direct relationship between opportunities and PA. Results suggested that perceived community racism moderated this association. When community racism was low, respondents found ways to be active whether they perceived opportunities or not. When community racism was high, perceived lack of opportunities significantly impeded PA engagement. We found the expected association between PA and health.
Results suggested that negative effects of community racism were counteracted through increased opportunities for PA.
Sarah Shaw, Tina Smith, Jenny Alexanders, Thomas Shaw, Lois Smith, Alan Nevill and Anna Anderson
To investigate half-marathon runners’ frequency of use of recovery strategies, perceptions regarding the most beneficial recovery strategy, and reasons for using recovery strategies.
186 participants of the 13.1 mile BUPA Great North Run 2013.
A questionnaire was developed which required participants to indicate how frequently they used 12 different recovery strategies, identify which recovery strategy they believed to be most beneficial, and rank 6 reasons for using recovery strategies in order of importance. Data were analyzed using a Friedman nonparametric ANOVA and additional nonparametric tests.
All participants used recovery strategies. Stretching was the most commonly used recovery strategy (P < .001), whereas the use of nutritional supplements was the most commonly selected most beneficial recovery strategy. More than 50% of respondents indicated that they never used strategies such as kinesio tape (80%), hydrotherapy (78%), or ice baths (71%). A significant difference was observed between reasons for using recovery strategy (χ2 (5) = 292.29, P < .001). Reducing muscle tightness (rank 4.87) and reducing injury (rank 4.35) were the most frequently chosen most important reasons for using recovery strategies. Minor sex and age differences in the responses were identified.
Recovery strategy usage appears to be widespread among half-marathon runners; however, disparities exist between the frequency of use and perceived effectiveness of different recovery strategies. Further research in this area is needed to facilitate the development of recovery strategy guidelines which are both evidence-based and practically relevant.
Yvonne Baillie, Matt Wyon and Andrew Head
This study looked at the physiological effects of performance in Highland-dance competition to consider whether the traditional methods used during class and rehearsal provide an appropriate training stimulus toward this performance.
Nine championship standard, female Highland dancers (age 14.2 ± 1.47 years) had their heart rate and blood lactate concentrations measured before and after 3 dances during a championship competition. Heart rate was also measured during the same 3 dances in rehearsal and during class.
Repeated-measures analysis of variance showed significant differences in pre dance lactate concentrations between the first dance (Highland Fling, 1.4 ± 0.3 mM/L), the second dance (Sword dance, 2.3 ± 0.8 mM/L), and the third dance (Sean Truibhas, 3.5 ± 1.8 mM/L; F 2,16 = 11.72, P < .01. This, coupled with a significant rise in lactate concentration during the dances (F 1,8 = 76.75, P < .001), resulted in a final post dance lactate concentration of 7.3 ± 2.96 mM/L. Heart-rate data during competition, rehearsal, and class (195.0 ± 6.5, 172.6 ± 5.4, and 151.9 ± 7.4 beats/min, respectively) showed significant differences between all 3 (F2,16 = 107.1, P < .001); these are comparable to research on other dance forms.
Given the disparity between the anaerobic predominance of competition and the aerobic predominance during class, it is suggested that the class does not provide an appropriate training stimulus as preparation for competitive performance in Highland dance.
Mitali S. Thanawala, Juned Siddique, John A. Schneider, Alka M. Kanaya, Andrew J. Cooper, Swapna S. Dave, Nicola Lancki and Namratha R. Kandula
Background: Eliminating racial/ethnic disparities in physical activity remains a challenge in the United States. South Asian immigrants in the United States have particularly low physical activity levels, and evidence suggests that social context may be important. This study examined associations between personal social networks and moderate to vigorous leisure-time physical activity (MVPA) among South Asians in the United States. Methods: We used cross-sectional data (2014–2017) from 689 South Asians (aged 43–85 y) who participated in the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America study. Self-reported physical activity and egocentric network data were collected from participants about their network members. Regression models were used to determine associations between social network characteristics and participants’ MVPA. Results: Participants were on average 59 years old (SD = 9) and reported 1335 metabolic equivalent minutes per week of MVPA (interquartile range = 735, 2212). Having network members who exercised or who were exercise partners associated with increased MVPA in men (β coefficient = 241 MET min/wk [95% confidence interval, 63 to 419] and β = 520 MET min/wk [95% confidence interval, 322 to 718], respectively). For women, the association was only significant if the exercise partner was a spouse. Conclusion: Physical activity interventions utilizing network members as exercise partners may have potential in South Asians but must consider gender differences.