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  • Author: Michelle C. Kegler x
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Kathleen Scanlin, Regine Haardoerfer, Michelle C. Kegler and Karen Glanz

Background:

Recently, investigators have begun to refine audit instruments for use in rural areas. However, no studies have developed a walkability summary score or have correlated built environment characteristics with physical activity behavior.

Methods:

The Rural Pedestrian Environmental Audit Instrument was developed specifically for use in rural areas. Segments surrounding participant’s homes were selected to represent neighborhood streets (N = 116). Interrater reliability was conducted on a subset of streets (N = 42). Rural-specific domain and walkability scores were developed and correlated with individual-level data on perceptions of the neighborhood and self-reported physical activity behavior.

Results:

Interrater reliability for the instrument was substantial and all domains had high agreement. Walkability in the audited area was low with even the best segments demonstrating only moderate support for walking. There were no significant correlations between the neighborhood walkability score and self-reported neighborhood walkability, time spent walking, sedentary behavior, or BMI; however, a few correlations within the social/dynamic domain were significant.

Conclusions:

This study expands recent research refining audit instruments for rural areas. Findings suggest the usefulness of summarizing environmental data at the domain level and linking it to physical activity behavior to identify aspects of the neighborhood environment that are most strongly correlated with actual behavior.

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Karla I. Galaviz, Deena Zytnick, Michelle C. Kegler and Solveig A. Cunningham

Background:

We examined the relationship between parents’ perception of neighborhood safety and children’s physical activity and use of recreation facilities in a US nationally representative sample of fifth grade children.

Methods:

We used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten cohort, fifth grade sample (N = 9827). Multivariate logistic and linear regression models were used to examine associations between parents’ perception of neighborhood safety for outside play and number of days children engage in physical activity, as well as children’s use of recreational facilities for physical activity.

Results:

Children who used recreational facilities engaged in physical activity on more days of the week compared with children who did not use a facility (3.3 days vs. 3.8 days, P < .0001). Children from neighborhoods perceived as unsafe by parents engaged in almost 1 less day per week in physical activity (β = –.89, P < .0001). Children from neighborhoods perceived as unsafe were less likely to use recreational facilities compared with children from neighborhoods perceived as safe (odds ratio = 0.72, P < .0001). Children from less affluent families across rural and urban areas had half the odds of using recreational facilities compared with children from the wealthiest families living in urban areas.

Conclusions:

Parents’ perception of neighborhood safety for outside play can deter or promote children’s physical activity and use of recreational facilities. Children from less affluent families are less likely to use facilities than children from wealthy families, regardless of place of residence.

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Michelle C. Kegler, Iris Alcantara, Regine Haardörfer, Alexandra Gemma, Denise Ballard and Julie Gazmararian

Background:

Physical activity levels, including walking, are lower in the southern U.S., particularly in rural areas. This study investigated the concept of rural neighborhood walkability to aid in developing tools for assessing walkability and to identify intervention targets in rural communities.

Methods:

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with physically active adults (n = 29) in rural Georgia. Mean age of participants was 55.9 years; 66% were male, 76% were white, and 24% were African American. Participants drew maps of their neighborhoods and discussed the relevance of typical domains of walkability to their decisions to exercise. Comparative analyses were conducted to identify major themes.

Results:

The majority felt the concept of neighborhood was applicable and viewed their neighborhood as small geographically (less than 0.5 square miles). Sidewalks were not viewed as essential for neighborhood-based physical activity and typical destinations for walking were largely absent. Destinations within walking distance included neighbors’ homes and bodies of water. Views were mixed on whether shade, safety, dogs, and aesthetics affected decisions to exercise in their neighborhoods.

Conclusions:

Measures of neighborhood walkability in rural areas should acknowledge the small size of self-defined neighborhoods, that walking in rural areas is likely for leisure time exercise, and that some domains may not be relevant.

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Michelle C. Kegler, Deanne W. Swan, Iris Alcantara, Louise Wrensford and Karen Glanz

Background:

This study examines the relative contribution of social (eg, social support) and physical (eg, programs and facilities) aspects of worksite, church, and home settings to physical activity levels among adults in rural communities.

Methods:

Data are from a cross-sectional survey of 268 African American and Caucasian adults, ages 40–70, living in southwest Georgia. Separate regression models were developed for walking, moderate, vigorous, and total physical activity as measured in METs-minutes-per-week.

Results:

Social support for physical activity was modest in all 3 settings (mean scores 1.5–1.9 on a 4-point scale). Participants reported limited (<1) programs and facilities for physical activity at their worksites and churches. An interaction of physical and social aspects of the home setting was observed for vigorous and moderate physical activity and total METs. There were also interactions between gender and social support at church for vigorous activity among women, and between race and the physical environment at church for moderate physical activity. A cross-over interaction was found between home and church settings for vigorous physical activity. Social support at church was associated with walking and total METs.

Conclusions:

Homes and churches may be important behavioral settings for physical activity among adults in rural communities.