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Ming Wen, Lifeng Li and Dejun Su

Background:

Physical activity (PA) has been routinely linked to lower all-cause mortality, yet extant research in the United States is primarily based on nonrepresentative samples. Evidence is scant on the relative and independent merits of leisure-time (LTPA) versus non-leisure-time (NLTPA) activities and how the PA-mortality link may vary across racial-ethnic-gender groups.

Methods:

Data were from Health and Retirement Study which began in 1992 collecting data on individuals aged 51–61 years who were subsequently surveyed once every 2 years. The current study assessed group-specific effects of LTPA and NLTPA measured in 1992 on mortality that occurred during the 1992–2008 follow-up period. Cox proportional hazard analyses were performed to examine the PA-mortality link.

Results:

Net of a wide range of controls, both LTPA and NLTPA showed a gradient negative relation with mortality. No gender-PA interaction effects were evident. Some interaction effects of PA with race-ethnicity were found but they were weak and inconsistent. The mortality reduction effects of PA seemed robust across racial-ethnic-gender groups.

Conclusions:

Regardless of personal background, PA is a major health promoting factor and should be encouraged in aging populations. More research is needed to assess relative merits of different types and domains of PA.

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Chris Rissel, Dafna Merom, Adrian Bauman, Jan Garrard, Li Ming Wen and Carolyn New

Background:

Encouraging cycling could increase levels of physical activity and health in the community. A population survey of cycling and physical activity was conducted as part of the baseline evaluation of a new intervention research project (Cycling Connecting Communities).

Methods:

A telephone survey of adults (18+) living within 2 kilometers of selected major new bicycle paths in 3 local government areas in south western Sydney, Australia was conducted using a 2-stage sampling method. Multiple logistic regression analyses examined factors associated with riding in the last year, wanting to cycle more, and use of local bicycle paths.

Results:

With a 65% response rate, 1450 interviews were completed. Having ridden a bicycle in the past year was associated with younger age, being male, having access to a bicycle, and living close to destinations of interest. Two thirds of respondents (65%) wanted to ride more than they currently did. Factors associated with wanting to ride more were having children aged between 5−18 years, having used local bicycle paths, and perceptions of ease of cycling.

Conclusions:

The study found that there is a latent desire for more cycling among respondents, prompted to some extent by having children of an age (5−18 years) that like cycling, and having a reasonable opportunity to cycle due to local bicycle paths. Being relatively close to destinations of interest increases the likelihood of recent cycling.

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Li Ming Wen, Hidde P. van der Ploeg, James Kite, Aaron Cashmore and Chris Rissel

Assessing young children’s physical activity and sedentary behavior can be challenging and costly. This study aimed to assess the validity of a brief survey about activity preferences as a proxy of physical activity and of a 7-day activity diary, both completed by the parents and using accelerometers as a reference measure. Thirty-four parents and their children (aged 3–5 years) who attended childcare centers in Sydney (Australia) were recruited for the study. Parents were asked to complete a 9-item brief survey about activity preferences of their child and a 7-day diary recording the child’s physical activity and sedentary behaviors. Both measures were compared with accelerometer data collected from the child over the same period as the diary survey. The findings suggest that parent completed diaries have acceptable correlation coefficients with accelerometer measures and could be considered in future research assessing physical activity and sedentary behavior of children aged 3–5 years.