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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.