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Gavin McCormack and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

The influence of participating in vigorous-intensity physical activity and associated compensatory declines in other types of physical activity in the general population has not been studied well; hence, it is unknown if participation in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity influence the likelihood of participating in recommended levels of moderate-intensity physical activity.

Methods:

Face-to-face interviews were conducted on healthy adults (n = 1803), 18 to 59 years of age, recruited from the top and lower quintiles of socioeconomic status within Perth, Western Australia. Data on television watching, vigorous-intensity activity, moderate-intensity activity, and walking for recreation and transport were used in the analysis. Logistic regression was used to determine whether participation in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity activity predicted participation in recommended levels of other types of physical activity and television watching.

Results:

After controlling for age, gender, education, and social advantage, participating in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity (≥90 min/week) was not found to be associated with walking for transport (≥150 min/week) but was found to be significantly associated (OR = 1.38, 95%CI = 1.04–1.82) with recommended levels of recreational walking (≥150 min/week). Participation in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity was associated with a reduced likelihood of watching television more than 10 hours per/week (OR = 0.71, 95%CI = 0.57–0.89).

Conclusion:

In those who participate in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity, there appears to be no compensatory response in other moderate-intensity activities. Given the added health benefits associated with vigorous-intensity activity, concurrent promotion of moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity guidelines is warranted, with no evidence that participation in vigorous-intensity activity will negatively influence participation in recommended levels of moderate-intensity activity.

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Andrea Nathan, Lisa Wood, and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

Self-selection—whether individuals inclined to walk more seek to live in walkable environments—must be accounted for when studying built environment influences on walking. The way neighborhoods are marketed to future residents has the potential to sway residential location choice, and may consequently affect measures of self-selection related to location preferences. We assessed how walking opportunities are promoted to potential buyers, by examining walkability attributes in marketing materials for housing developments.

Methods:

A content analysis of marketing materials for 32 new housing developments in Perth, Australia was undertaken, to assess how walking was promoted in the text and pictures. Housing developments designed to be pedestrian-friendly (LDs) were compared with conventional developments (CDs).

Results:

Compared with CDs, LD marketing materials had significantly more references to ‘public transport,’ ‘small home sites,’ ‘walkable parks/open space,’ ‘ease of cycling,’ ‘safe environment,’ and ‘boardwalks.’ Other walk-ability attributes approached significance.

Conclusion:

Findings suggest the way neighborhoods are marketed may contribute to self-reported reasons for choosing particular neighborhoods, especially when attributes are not present at the time of purchase. The marketing of housing developments may be an important factor to consider when measuring self-selection, and its influence on the built environment and walking relationship.

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Andrea Nathan, Lisa Wood, and Billie Giles-Corti

This study explored individual, social, and built environmental attributes in and outside of the retirement village setting and associations with various active living outcomes including objectively measured physical activity, specific walking behaviors, and social participation. Residents in Perth, Australia (N = 323), were surveyed on environmental perceptions of the village and surrounding neighborhood, self-reported physical activity, and demographic characteristics and wore accelerometers. Managers (N = 32) were surveyed on village characteristics, and objective neighborhood measures were generated in a Geographic Information System (GIS). Results indicated that built- and social-environmental attributes within and outside of retirement villages were associated with active living among residents; however, salient attributes varied depending on the specific outcome considered. Findings suggest that locating villages close to destinations is important for walking and that locating them close to previous and familiar neighborhoods is important for social participation. Further understanding and consideration into retirement village designs that promote both walking and social participation are needed.

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Paula Louise Hooper, Nicholas Middleton, Matthew Knuiman, and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

There is increasing focus on the influence of neighborhood destinations on a variety of health behaviors. Commercial databases, integrated with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), are popular sources of destination information for public health researchers. However, the suitability and accuracy of these data for public health research purposes has been generally unexplored.

Methods:

This study validated the presence and number of a broad range of destination types listed within an Australian-based commercial database (Yellow Pages), thought to be important for encouraging health behaviors, against those identified via field audit. The study was conducted in and around 5 housing developments within the RESIDential Environments project across metropolitan Perth, Western Australia.

Results:

Overall agreement of the count of destinations listed within the Yellow Pages ranged from 0.29–0.76, depending on the study area, the timing of the data extract and the geocoding methods used. Results also indicated considerable variation between different extracts from the same commercial dataset, and appreciable over- and under-counting of different destination types compared with field audit findings.

Conclusions:

The choice of database and extraction time and methods, have important implications in the quantification of neighborhood destination mix and robustness of associations with public health behaviors.

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Gavin R. McCormack, Billie Giles-Corti, and Max Bulsara

Background:

This study examines the relationships between the availability and use of recreational destinations and physical activity.

Methods:

Analysis included n = 1355 respondents. Associations between the density of free and pay-for-use recreational destinations, demographics, and use of free and pay-for-use recreational destinations within the neighborhood were examined, followed by associations with sufficient moderate and vigorous physical activity using generalized estimating equations.

Results:

The likelihood of using a local pay recreational destination increased for each additional local pay facility (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.32 to 1.73) and was lower for those with motor vehicle access (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.99). The likelihood of using a local free destination increased for each additional local free facility (OR 1.12, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.20) and was higher among women (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.44). Destination use was associated with both moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity.

Conclusions:

Increasing the density of neighborhood recreational destinations is associated with the use of facilities and participation in sufficient levels of physical activity.

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Nicole Joy Edwards, Billie Giles-Corti, Ann Larson, and Bridget Beesley

Background:

Associations between access to environments and levels of physical activity (PA) among adolescents have been established; however the influence of neighborhood design barriers (eg, major roads) on these relationships is less understood.

Methods:

In 2006, adolescents (n = 1304) in rural Western Australia completed the Up4it Physical Activity Survey measuring frequency and duration of organized and nonorganized physical activity by season. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were used to objectively measure distance to nearest park and beach and busy road barriers en route to these destinations.

Results:

Proximity to parks and beaches was associated with use of these environments for PA among adolescents, but this relationship attenuated after adjustment for presence of a major road. Park and beach use was positively associated with achieving recommended levels of PA. Paradoxically, proximity to these environments was not associated with achieving recommended levels of PA. Results suggest access to parks and beaches is necessary but may be insufficient to achieve recommended levels of PA. These relationships varied by season.

Conclusions:

Strategies should be put in place to encourage use of proximate supportive environments. Planning neighborhoods to reduce barriers to access and interventions to overcome seasonal variations in behavior may improve participation levels among adolescents.

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Georgina Trapp, Billie Giles-Corti, Hayley Christian, Anna Timperio, Gavin McCormack, Max Bulsara, and Karen Villanueva

This study investigated whether being driven to school was associated with lower weekday and weekend step counts, less active out-of-school leisure pursuits, and more sedentary behavior. Boys aged 10–13 years (n = 384) and girls aged 9–13 years (n = 500) attending 25 Australian primary schools wore a pedometer and completed a travel diary for one week. Parents and children completed surveys capturing leisure activity, screen time, and sociodemographics. Commute distance was objectively measured. Car travel was the most frequent mode of school transportation (boys: 51%, girls: 58%). After adjustment (sociodemographics, commute distance, and school clustering) children who were driven recorded fewer weekday steps than those who walked (girls: −1,393 steps p < .001, boys: −1,569 steps, p = .009) and participated in fewer active leisure activities (girls only: p = .043). There were no differences in weekend steps or screen time. Being driven to and from school is associated with less weekday pedometer-determined physical activity in 9- to 13-year-old elementary-school children. Encouraging children, especially girls, to walk to and from school (even for part of the way for those living further distances) could protect the health and well-being of those children who are insufficiently active.

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Hayley E. Cutt, Billie Giles-Corti, Matthew W. Knuiman, and Terri J. Pikora

Background:

This study aimed to develop a reliable instrument, the Dogs and Physical Activity (DAPA) tool, for measuring important attributes and scales relating to the dog-walking behavior of dog owners.

Methods:

Items measuring dog-specific individual, social environmental, physical environmental, and policy-related factors that affect dog owners’ walking with their dogs were assessed for test–retest reliability. Factor analysis was undertaken to demonstrate that the collection of test items had underlying constructs consistent with the theoretical framework.

Results:

DAPA-tool items had test–retest reliability scores >.7, indicating a high level of stability. Distinct general and dog-specific constructs of subscales measuring dog-supportive features of parks, barriers to dog walking, and behavioral beliefs about the outcomes of regular dog walking were demonstrated through factor analysis.

Conclusions:

The DAPA tool is the first comprehensive, reliable tool for measuring important attributes and scales relating to dog owners’ physical activity and the context-specific factors that affect owners’ walking with their dogs.

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Jerome N. Rachele, Vincent Learnihan, Hannah M. Badland, Suzanne Mavoa, Gavin Turrell, and Billie Giles-Corti

Background: There is growing urgency for higher quality evidence to inform policy. This study developed geographic information system spatial measures based on land use and transport policies currently used in selected Australian states to assess which, if any, of these measures were associated with walking for transport. Methods: Overall, 6901 participants from 570 neighborhoods in Brisbane, Australia, were included. Participants reported their minutes of walking for transport in the previous week. After a review of state-level land use and transport policies relevant to walking for transport across Australia, 7 geographic information system measures were developed and tested based on 9 relevant policies. Data were analyzed using multilevel multinomial logistic regression. Results: Greater levels of walking for transport were associated with more highly connected street networks, the presence of public transport stops, and having at least 2 public transport services per hour. Conversely, neighborhoods with shorter cul-de-sac lengths had lower levels of walking for transport. There was no evidence of associations between walking for transport and street block lengths less than 240 m or traffic volumes. Conclusions: These findings highlight the need for urban design and transport policies developed by governments to be assessed for their impact on transport-related physical activity.

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David Ogilvie, Billie Giles-Corti, Paula Hooper, Lin Yang, and Fiona Bull

Modifying the built environment is increasingly recommended as a means of increasing physical activity, but there is currently little evidence from intervention studies to support this approach. From a discussion of 3 natural experiments in this area (RESIDE, iConnect, and Commuting and Health in Cambridge), several common lessons emerged. First, researchers should anticipate delays in the implementation of interventions that are outside their control, and research funders need to exercise a degree of flexibility to accommodate changing research timetables. Second, new built environments develop and evolve over time, and so do their effects on human behavior. Study designs and exposure measures should take account of this, and long term outcomes should be measured wherever possible to allow for potential sleeper, snowball, or threshold effects emerging over time. Third, it may be difficult to identify suitable control areas for a conventional parallel-group intervention–control design, and it may be necessary to draw on other study designs to provide a counterfactual comparison. Fourth, the effort and cost required to recruit, retain and obtain repeated measurements from participants over a period of years should not be underestimated. Finally, comprehensive process evaluation measures may be required to assess the level and quality of interventions.