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Chelsey Walden-Schreiner, Yu-Fai Leung and Myron F. Floyd

Background:

To address increasing prevalence of obesity and associated chronic disease, recent national initiatives have called upon federal agencies to promote healthy lifestyles and provide opportunities for physical activity. In response, the U.S. National Park Service has developed strategies promoting health through physical activity in addition to its well-established biodiversity and landscape conservation mission. Incorporating physical activity measures with routine environmental monitoring would help identify areas where parks can promote active pursuits with minimal environmental impact. This study provides one example of how protocols developed for visitor and environmental monitoring can generate data to evaluate physical activity.

Methods:

Researchers implemented an observational study in high-use meadows of Yosemite National Park during the summer of 2011. Variables measured include the spatial location of visitors and activity type. Metabolic equivalents (METs) were assigned to activity categories and analyzed for average energy expenditure.

Results:

Mean METs values indicated sedentary to light physical activity across the meadows, with greater means in areas with boardwalks or paved pathways.

Conclusions:

Data leveraged in this study provide park managers an example of adapting existing monitoring programs to incorporate indicators relevant to physical activity evaluation and how physical activity may impact resource conditions in national parks.

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Wendell C. Taylor, Myron F. Floyd, Melicia C. Whitt-Glover and Joseph Brooks

Background:

Despite the importance of physical activity (PA) for good health, not all populations have equal access to PA facilities and resources. This disparity is an environmental justice (EJ) issue because of the negative impact on the health of low-income and racial/ethnic minorities.

Methods:

This paper reviews the first wave of the EJ movement, presents the second wave of the EJ movement, discusses the implications of adopting principles from the EJ movement to focus on research in parks and recreation services (PRS), and recommends future research directions.

Results:

Studies on EJ have documented the disproportionate burden of environmental challenges experienced by low-income and racial/ethnic minorities. With regard to PA, these communities face inadequate access to, quality of, financing for, and public involvement in recreation opportunities.

Conclusions:

EJ is a useful framework to facilitate collaborative research between public health and PRS to study racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in PA.

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Jonathan M. Casper, Jason N. Bocarro, Michael A. Kanters and Myron F. Floyd

Background:

Organized sport is viewed as a viable medium for promoting more physical activity among youth. However, participation in youth sport declines significantly among both boys and girls during their middle school years. This study examined middle school students’ perceived constraints to sport participation.

Methods:

Middle school students from 4 schools (6th−8th grade, N = 2465) completed a web based survey (97.3% response rate). Descriptive analysis, t tests, and ANOVA were used to assess extent of perceived constraints and differences among demographic and sport participation level subgroups.

Results:

The most salient constraint perceived by respondents was time, while knowledge was perceived as the lowest among the overall sample. Significant (P < .01) differences in perceived constraints were found among all comparisons groups. Girls, Latinos, lower SES students, and students who did not play sports reported more constraints than respective comparisons groups.

Discussion:

The sociodemographic characteristics of middle school students appear to be a significant factor in their perception of constraints to sport participation. Identifying constraints associated with sport participation can enable policy-makers and administrators to be more deliberate in channeling resources.

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Nisha Botchwey, Myron F. Floyd, Keshia Pollack Porter, Carmen L. Cutter, Chad Spoon, Tom L. Schmid, Terry L. Conway, J. Aaron Hipp, Anna J. Kim, M. Renee Umstattd Meyer, Amanda L. Walker, Tina J. Kauh and Jim F. Sallis

Background: The Physical Activity Research Center developed a research agenda that addresses youth physical activity (PA) and healthy weight, and aligns with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health. This paper summarizes prioritized research studies with a focus on youth at higher risk for inactive lifestyles and childhood obesity in urban and rural communities. Methods: Systematic literature reviews, a survey, and discussions with practitioners and researchers provided guidance on research questions to build evidence and inform effective strategies to promote healthy weight and PA in youth across race, cultural, and economic groups. Results: The research team developed a matrix of potential research questions, identified priority questions, and designed targeted studies to address some of the priority questions and inform advocacy efforts. The studies selected examine strategies advocating for activity-friendly communities, Play Streets, park use, and PA of youth in the summer. A broader set of research priorities for youth PA is proposed. Conclusion: Establishing the Physical Activity Research Center research agenda identified important initial and future research studies to promote and ensure healthy weight and healthy levels of PA for at-risk youth. Results will be disseminated with the goal of promoting equitable access to PA for youth.

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Christine M. Hoehner, Ross C. Brownson, Diana Allen, James Gramann, Timothy K. Behrens, Myron F. Floyd, Jessica Leahy, Joseph B. Liddle, David Smaldone, Diara D. Spain, Daniel R. Tardona, Nicholas P. Ruthmann, Rachel L. Seiler and Byron W. Yount

Background:

We synthesized the results of 7 National Park Service pilot interventions designed to increase awareness of the health benefits from participation in recreation at national parks and to increase physical activity by park visitors.

Methods:

A content analysis was conducted of the final evaluation reports of the 7 participating parks. Pooled data were also analyzed from a standardized trail-intercept survey administered in 3 parks.

Results:

The theme of new and diverse partnerships was the most common benefit reported across the 7 sites. The 2 parks that focused on youth showed evidence of an increase in awareness of the benefits of physical activity. Many of the other sites found high levels of awareness at baseline (approaching 90%), suggesting little room for improvement. Five of the 7 projects showed evidence of an increase in physical activity that was associated with the intervention activities. Multivariate analyses suggested that the media exposure contributed to a small but significant increase in awareness of the importance of physical activity (6%) and number of active visits (7%).

Conclusions:

Enhancements and replication of these programs represents a promising opportunity for improving partnerships between public health and recreation to increase physical activity.