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Jacqueline Kerr, Greg Norman, Rachel Millstein, Marc A. Adams, Cindy Morgan, Robert D. Langer and Matthew Allison

Background:

Few studies of older adults have compared environmental correlates of walking and physical activity in women who may be more influenced by the environment. Environmental measures at different spatial levels have seldom been compared. Findings from previous studies are generally inconsistent.

Methods:

This study investigated the relationship between the built environment and physical activity in older women from the Women’s Health Initiative cohort in San Diego County (N = 5401). Built environment measures were created for 3 buffers around participants’ residential address. Linear regression analyses investigated the relationship between the built environment features and self-reported physical activity and walking.

Results:

Total walking was significantly positively associated with the walkability index (β = .050: half-mile buffer), recreation facility density (β = .036: 1-mile buffer), and distance to the coast (β = –.064; P-values < .05). Total physical activity was significantly negatively associated with distance to the coast and positively with recreation facility density (β = .036: 1-mile buffer; P < .05).

Conclusions:

Although effect sizes were small, we did find important relationships between walkability and walking in older adults, which supports recommendations for community design features to include age friendly elements. More intense physical activity may occur in recreational settings than neighborhood streets.

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Marc A. Adams, Sherry Ryan, Jacqueline Kerr, James F. Sallis, Kevin Patrick, Lawrence D. Frank and Gregory J. Norman

Background:

Concurrent validity of Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (NEWS) items was evaluated with objective measures of the built environment using geographic information systems (GIS).

Methods:

A sample of 878 parents of children 10 to 16 years old (mean age 43.5 years, SD = 6.8, 34.8% non-White, 63.8% overweight) completed NEWS and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. GIS was used to develop 1-mile street network buffers around participants’ residences. GIS measures of the built environment within participants’ buffers included percent of commercial and institutional land uses; number of schools and colleges, recreational facilities, parks, transit stops, and trees; land topography; and traffic congestion.

Results:

Except for trees and traffic, concordance between the NEWS and GIS measures were significant, with weak to moderate effect sizes (r = −0.09 to −0.36, all P ≤ 01). After participants were stratified by physical activity level, stronger concordance was observed among active participants for some measures. A sensitivity analysis of self-reported distance to 15 neighborhood destinations found a 20-minute (compared with 10- or 30-minute) walking threshold generally had the strongest correlations with GIS measures.

Conclusions:

These findings provide evidence of the concurrent validity of self-reported built environment items with objective measures. Physically active adults may be more knowledgeable about their neighborhood characteristics.

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Christina M. Patch, Caterina G. Roman, Terry L. Conway, Ralph B. Taylor, Kavita A. Gavand, Brian E. Saelens, Marc A. Adams, Kelli L. Cain, Jessa K. Engelberg, Lauren Mayes, Scott C. Roesch and James F. Sallis

Background: A common hypothesis is that crime is a major barrier to physical activity, but research does not consistently support this assumption. This article advances research on crime-related safety and physical activity by developing a multilevel conceptual framework and reliable measures applicable across age groups. Methods: Criminologists and physical activity researchers collaborated to develop a conceptual framework. Survey development involved qualitative data collection and resulted in 155 items and 26 scales. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were computed to assess test–retest reliability in a subsample of participants (N = 176). Analyses were conducted separately by age groups. Results: Test–retest reliability for most scales (63 of 104 ICCs across 4 age groups) was “excellent” or “good” (ICC ≥ .60) and only 18 ICCs were “poor” (ICC < .40). Reliability varied by age group. Adolescents (aged 12–17 y) had ICCs above the .40 threshold for 21 of 26 scales (81%). Young adults (aged 18–39 y) and middle-aged adults (aged 40–65 y) had ICCs above .40 for 24 (92%) and 23 (88%) scales, respectively. Older adults (aged 66 y and older) had ICCs above .40 for 18 of 26 scales (69%). Conclusions: The conceptual framework and reliable measures can be used to clarify the inconclusive relationships between crime-related safety and physical activity.