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Alison Carver, Anna Timperio and David Crawford

Background:

The purpose of this study was to examine associations between perceptions of neighborhood safety and physical activity among youth.

Methods:

We completed a cross-sectional study of children age 8 to 9 years (n = 188) and adolescents age 13 to 15 years (n = 346) in areas of varying socioeconomic status in Melbourne, Australia. Parents and adolescents completed questionnaires on perceptions of neighborhood safety. Scores were computed for perceptions of road safety, incivilities, and personal safety of the child or adolescent. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) before or after school, on evenings, and on weekends was recorded using accelerometers.

Results:

There were no associations between parental perceptions of neighborhood safety and children’s MVPA outside school hours. Parental perception of personal safety was positively associated with adolescent boys’ MVPA after school. Adolescent girls’ concern about road safety was negatively associated with their MVPA during evenings and outside school hours.

Conclusion:

Perceptions of neighborhood safety might influence physical activity among youth in different ways according to age group and sex.

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Akio Kubota, Alison Carver and Takemi Sugiyama

This cross-sectional study examined associations of local social engagement with walking and sitting, and whether these associations were modified by local environmental attributes. Older residents (aged 65–84 years, n = 849), recruited from a regional city in Japan, reported walking frequency, sitting time, local social engagement, and local environmental attributes. Walk Score® was also used as an environmental measure. Analysis of data from 705 participants found that engaging in community activities was significantly associated with more frequent walking, but not with prolonged sitting. Interaction analyses between social engagement and environmental attributes did not show any significant interactions, suggesting that promoting local social engagement may increase walking frequency among older adults, regardless of local environmental characteristics. Community-level social initiatives that encourage older adults to participate in local meetings, events, and activities may be an effective physical activity promotion strategy among older adults.

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Rachel Cole, Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Alison Carver, Neville Owen and Takemi Sugiyama

Older adults are often considered more vulnerable to environmental factors than are younger adults. We examined whether the associations of objectively measured environmental attributes (Walk Score; street connectivity) with walking for transport differed between younger- (25–44 years), middle- (45–64 years), and older-aged (65–84 years) adults, using a large Australian sample of 14,656 people. Walk Score and street connectivity were similarly associated with walking (any; 30+ min/day) in all age groups. Contrary to commonly held views, the study did not find any evidence suggesting that older adults may be more sensitive to their environment to get out and walk than are younger adults, at least for the environmental attributes examined in this study. Further research is needed to investigate if there are particular environmental factors that hinder older adults from being active.