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Gregory J. Norman, Sandra K. Nutter, Sherry Ryan, James F. Sallis, Karen J. Calfas and Kevin Patrick

Background:

Neighborhood-level environmental features have been associated with adult physical activity and weight status, but this link has not been established for adolescents.

Methods:

Community design and access to recreational facilities variables were derived using geographic information systems (GIS) for 799 adolescents (age 11 to 15 y, mean = 12.8 y, 53% girls, 43% ethnic minority). Environment variables were calculated for a 1-mile buffer around each participant’s residence. Accelerometers measured min/d of physical activity.

Results:

Number of nearby recreation facilities and number of nearby parks correlated positively with girls’ physical activity, and intersection density inversely related to girls’ physical activity. Retail floor area ratio correlated positively with boys’ physical activity. No community design or access to recreation variables were related to BMI-percentile.

Conclusions:

There was limited evidence that both community design and access to recreation facilities variables were associated with adolescent physical activity, but additional built environment variables need to be studied that have particular relevance for youth.

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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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Cheryl Carnoske, Christine Hoehner, Nicholas Ruthmann, Lawrence Frank, Susan Handy, James Hill, Sherry Ryan, James Sallis, Karen Glanz and Ross Brownson

Background:

Although public support for physical activity-friendly Traditional Neighborhood Developments (TNDs) appears to be growing, information is lacking on private sector perspectives and how economic factors (eg, fuel prices) might influence the development and sale of TNDs.

Methods:

A sample of realtors from the National Association of Realtors (n = 4950) and developers from the National Association of Home Builders (n = 162) were surveyed in early 2009 to assess factors influencing homebuyers' decisions; incentives and barriers to developing TNDs; effects of depressed housing market conditions and financing on sales; trends in buying; and energy considerations (eg, green building).

Results:

Realtors believed that homebuyers continue to rank affordability, safety and school quality higher than TND amenities. Developers reported numerous barriers to TNDs, including the inability to overcome governmental/political hurdles, lack of cooperation between government agencies, and lack of market demand. Yet, realtors believed clients are increasingly influenced by gas and oil prices, and developers reported that clients are looking for energy efficient homes, reduced commute time, and walkable neighborhoods. Respondents reported consumers are more interested in living in a TND than 5 years ago.

Conclusions:

Activity-friendly TNDs appear to be increasing in demand, but developers and realtors reported significant barriers to creating these communities.