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Karla A. Henderson

Research reports released almost every day extol the healthful physical and mental benefits of physical activity. Many women, however, fail to participate in physical activities because of reasons that relate to personal, social, and organizational constraints. Understanding what to do to help women enhance their physical activity involvement must be considered by many people. Change in directions that will add quality to women’s lives will not happen without consciously directed effort on the part of individuals, as well as institutions, within society. A basic assumption underlying this paper is that physical activity possesses the components of leisure when it is freely chosen and found enjoyable. Therefore, I propose that change needs to occur within society, among individuals, and by activity providers if opportunities for enjoyable and beneficial physical involvement are to be enhanced for girls and women.

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Women, Physical Activity, and Leisure: Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune?

AAHPERD Invited Scholar (April 12, 2002) Presentation

Karla A. Henderson

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Benjamin D. Hickerson and Karla A. Henderson

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.

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Karla A. Henderson and Barbara E. Ainsworth

Physical activity involvement often changes as an individual gets older. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to explore the involvement in and meanings of physical activity from childhood to the present among a selected group of Native American women. The results showed that perceived meanings of physical activity remained relatively stable over the lives of these women. Two patterns of involvement emerged among the women: decliners and rejuvenators. The results suggested that physical activity as women aged was a result not of choice as often as of a life situation. Furthermore, the changes occurring in physical activity over the life course reflected social and cultural influences, as well as individual self-determination. The findings indicated that a variety of perspectives are needed if researchers are to understand the changes that occur in physical activity patterns and how both women and men of all ethnic groups might remain involved in physical activity throughout their lives.

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Andrew T. Kaczynski and Karla A. Henderson

Background:

The purpose of this study was to review reported associations between parks and recreation settings (PRSs) as features of the built environment and various functions and intensities of physical activity (PA).

Methods:

By searching 4 major databases for the years 1998 to 2005, 50 articles were uncovered that reported quantitative relationships between PRSs and PA.

Results:

Most articles showed some significant positive relationships between PRSs and PA. PRSs were more likely to be positively associated with PA for exercise or utilitarian functions than for recreational PA. Mixed results were observed for the associations between PRSs and both moderate and vigorous PA, but PRSs were commonly associated with walking.

Conclusions:

The studies indicated links between PRSs and PA and provided evidence for the contributions parks and recreation makes as part of the “health care” system within communities. Because of the ubiquity of PRSs and their potential contributions to active living, these relationships merit further exploration.

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Karla A. Henderson and M. Deborah Bialeschki

The purpose of this research was to explore the meanings of women’s involvement in physical recreation. Although much has been written about girls’ and women’s involvement in competitive athletics, less is known about the everyday physical involvement of women who are committed to fitness activities, recreational sports, and/or outdoor activities. Data from indepth interviews were collected from 29 participants in physical activity. A process of “constant comparison” was used to develop conclusions about the social psychological meanings of physical recreation. Physical recreation was analyzed in relation to three themes: the setting and structures associated with physical activity, the worth of physical activity, and the means for negotiating opportunities for participation. The gendered meanings associated with physical recreation provided further social psychological and sociological understandings of the recreation choices and multilayered reality of women’s lives.

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Karla A. Henderson and Barbara E. Ainsworth

Cultural influences are often important in shaping women’s approaches to healthy living (Sarto, 1998). The lives of many people of color in American society generally are associated with close family ties and community identification (Keller, 1993). If these assumptions are true, then it may be useful to understand the social dynamics that exist in the lives of African American and American Indian women to better understand health issues related to their participation, or lack of participation, in leisure and physical activities. The purpose of this analysis was to explore the meanings of social support and physical activity as expressed by older African American and American Indian women who participated in the Cultural Activity Participation Study (CAPS). We used a grounded theory approach to analyze data from in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with 56 African American and American Indian women in the United States. Based upon the analysis complex social dynamics occurred that both encouraged and inhibited women’s involvement in physical activities. It was shown that these women’s families and community relationships tended to be more important than their personal identities, and that social support systems had an influence on perceptions of, opportunities for, and involvement in leisure related physical activity.

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David Cardenas, Karla A. Henderson and Beth E. Wilson

The purpose of the article was to examine the physical activity perceptions and behaviors of older adults who were active participants in a statewide senior games (i.e., North Carolina Senior Games; NCSG) program with its focus on year-round involvement through activities in local communities. A random sample of 440 older adults (55 years and older) completed a questionnaire in 2006 about their participation in community-based senior games. A uniqueness of this study is its focus on active older adults, which provides insight into how to maintain physical involvement. Older adults who were most active perceived the most benefits from senior games but did not necessarily have the fewest constraints. This study of NCSG as an organization designed to promote healthy living in communities offered an example of how a social-ecological framework aimed at health promotion can be applied.

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John Librett, Karla Henderson, Geoffrey Godbey and James R. Morrow Jr.

The purpose of parks and recreation as well as public health is to seek the highest possible quality of life for individuals and communities. Unfortunately, little discourse has occurred between the parks and recreation and public health professions. This missed opportunity has resulted in an incomplete understanding of the spectrum of issues shared by the fields, a slow transdisciplinary learning curve, and a dearth of knowledge-based linkages between science and practice. The goal of the 2006 Cooper Institute Conference on Parks, Recreation, and Public Health: Collaborative Frameworks for Promoting Physical Activity was to highlight opportunities and advance cooperation between parks, recreation, and public health researchers and practitioners that result in collaborations that influence public health decisions at the macro (agency) and micro (individual) levels. This article introduces the discussion on scientific and practice issues in parks, recreation, and public health. By establishing a baseline of frameworks for strengthening collaboration we hope to improve the health and quality of life through parks and recreation-based physical activity.