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  • Author: Regine Haardörfer x
  • Sport and Exercise Science/Kinesiology x
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Michelle C. Kegler, Iris Alcantara, Regine Haardörfer, Alexandra Gemma, Denise Ballard and Julie Gazmararian

Background:

Physical activity levels, including walking, are lower in the southern U.S., particularly in rural areas. This study investigated the concept of rural neighborhood walkability to aid in developing tools for assessing walkability and to identify intervention targets in rural communities.

Methods:

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with physically active adults (n = 29) in rural Georgia. Mean age of participants was 55.9 years; 66% were male, 76% were white, and 24% were African American. Participants drew maps of their neighborhoods and discussed the relevance of typical domains of walkability to their decisions to exercise. Comparative analyses were conducted to identify major themes.

Results:

The majority felt the concept of neighborhood was applicable and viewed their neighborhood as small geographically (less than 0.5 square miles). Sidewalks were not viewed as essential for neighborhood-based physical activity and typical destinations for walking were largely absent. Destinations within walking distance included neighbors’ homes and bodies of water. Views were mixed on whether shade, safety, dogs, and aesthetics affected decisions to exercise in their neighborhoods.

Conclusions:

Measures of neighborhood walkability in rural areas should acknowledge the small size of self-defined neighborhoods, that walking in rural areas is likely for leisure time exercise, and that some domains may not be relevant.

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Kevin Lanza, Brian Stone Jr, Paul M. Chakalian, Carina J. Gronlund, David M. Hondula, Larissa Larsen, Evan Mallen and Regine Haardörfer

Background: Research has not yet examined how hot weather moderates the relationship between the built environment and outdoor physical activity levels. The authors posited that hot days will increase the magnitude of the expected directional effect of built environment features on physical activity. Methods: This longitudinal study included 134 US adults from the Three city Heat and Electrical failure AdapTation study. Adults self-reported physical activity for multiple summer days (nstudy-days = 742) in 2016. Hot days were defined as ≥90th percentile of daily maximum heat index. Built environment features included density, safety, trees, hilliness, connectivity, access to parks, and access to shops + services. Separate growth curve models with interaction terms (ie, hot day × built environment feature) were run for daily minutes of outdoor physical activity (ie, any activity and recommended activity). Results: Neither hot days nor built environment features impacted outdoor physical activity significantly, and hot days did not moderate the relationship between built environment features and physical activity (P > .05). Conclusions: With adults failing to modify behavior on hot days, cities may be placing adults at increased risk of exertional heat illness. The authors recommend incorporating the risk of exertional heat illness in health impact assessments and deploying heat management strategies.