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Karen J. Calfas and Wendell C. Taylor

To identify the most consistent relationships among psychological variables and physical activity in youth (ages 11-21 years), 20 articles on depression, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, self-concept, hostility, anger, intellectual functioning, and psychiatric disorders were reviewed. Physical activity was consistently related to improvements in self-esteem, self-concept, depressive symptoms, and anxiety/stress. The effect sizes were +.12, -.15, and -.38 for self-esteem/self-concept, stress/anxiety, and depression, respectively. The evidence for hostility/anger and academic achievement was inconclusive. No negative effects of physical activity were reported. The literature suggests that physical activity in youth is psychologically beneficial. More research is needed to confirm previous findings. Adolescents should engage in moderate or vigorous aerobic activity approximately three times per week for a total of at least 60 minutes per week.

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Lorna H. McNeill, Karolina Murguia, Nga Nguyen and Wendell C. Taylor

Background:

Walking trails are positively associated with physical activity; however, few studies have been conducted among diverse communities. We sought to describe trail use and the physical and social environmental correlates of trail use in a racially/ethnically diverse sample.

Methods:

We administered an on-site trail intercept survey to walkers on a trail (N = 175). We assessed frequency/duration of trail use, reasons for using the trail, perceptions of the trail, demographics and BMI.

Results:

Walkers were primarily young (mean age = 37.8 years, SD = 11.8) and overweight (mean BMI = 25.2 kg/m2, SD = 4.2). Time spent on the trail and frequency of trail use differed significantly by age (P = .004) but not race/ethnicity. Perceptions of the trail differed significantly by sex and race/ethnicity (P-values = .001, .014, respectively). In regression models, different factors predicted time spent on the trail and frequency of trail use.

Conclusions:

Walkers were frequent users of the trail and cited many favorable features of the trail that encouraged their use. Duration and frequency of trail use did not differ by race/ethnicity or sex, thereby indicating that when provided with safe access, racial/ethnic minorities and women may be likely to use trails at rates similar to those of Whites and men.

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James M. Pivarnik, Wendell C. Taylor and Sharon S. Cummings

This study presents 3 years of data from a longitudinal study designed to follow changes in VO2max and treadmill (TM) exercise performance in African-American girls throughout middle school. Subjects (N = 19) were tested 6 months apart during grades 6-8. VO9 and heart rates (HR) were measured continuously while each subject performed an incremental TM test to volitional exhaustion. Absolute VO2max (ml • min1) increased with time, while relative (ml • kg 1 * min1) values declined significantly from 6th to 8th grade. Treadmill time to exhaustion improved after the first test, but showed a significant decline by the end of 8th grade. Correlations between fall 6th-grade and spring 8th-grade aerobic fitness measures ranged from .35 to .57, indicating moderate tracking of these variables throughout middle school. Aerobic fitness values are low (compared to Caucasians) in African-American adolescent girls and show significant declines throughout middle school. Future studies should investigate anatomical, physiological, and behavioral reasons for the apparently low aerobic fitness seen in African-American girls.

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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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Wendell C. Taylor, Walker S. Carlos Poston, Lovell Jones and M. Katherine Kraft

Background:

The term “environmental justice” refers to efforts to address the disproportionate exposure to and burden of harmful environmental conditions experienced by low-income and racial/ethnic minority populations.

Methods:

Based on computer and manual searches, this paper presents a review of articles in the published literature that discuss disparities in physical activity, dietary habits, and obesity among different populations.

Results:

This paper provides evidence that economically disadvantaged and racial/ethnic minority populations have substantial environmental challenges to overcome to become physically active, to acquire healthy dietary habits, and to maintain a healthy weight. For example, residents living in poorer areas have more environmental barriers to overcome to be physically active.

Conclusions:

We propose a research agenda to specifically address environmental justice with regard to improving physical activity, dietary habits, and weight patterns.

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Emily Lees, Wendell C. Taylor, Joseph T. Hepworth, Karina Feliz, Andrea Cassells and Jonathan N. Tobin

Despite the numerous benefits of physical activity, older adults continue to be more sedentary than their younger counterparts, and sedentary behavior is more prevalent among older racial and ethnic minorities than among Whites. This study used the nominal group technique (NGT) to examine participants’ perceptions of what neighborhood environmental changes would encourage greater physical activity for older African American and Hispanic women. Participants age 50–75 years were recruited from 2 urban community health clinics. Nine NGT sessions (45 participants) were conducted. The women were asked what changes in their neighborhood environment would encourage them to become more physically active. Responses to the research question were tabulated, and qualitative analysis was used to identify themes and categories. Major categories were physical environment changes, safety, and activities/social support. Although the physical environment received the greatest number of points, concerns for personal safety cut across categories. Participants indicated the need for more facilities in which to be active.

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James F. Sallis, Wendell C. Taylor, Marsha Dowda, Patty S. Freedson and Russell R. Pate

Correlates of physical activity were examined in young people in grades 1 through 12, and analyses were conducted separately for eight age/grade and sex subgroups. Twenty-one explanatory variables were assessed by parental report. Physical activity was assessed in 781 young people via parent report, and 200 wore an accelerometer for seven days. Between 11% and 36% of parent-reported child vigorous physical activity was explained. The most consistent correlates were peer support and use of afternoon time for active rather than sedentary recreation. Peer support was the only significant correlate of objectively monitored activity in multiple subgroups.

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Wendell C. Taylor, James F. Sallis, Marsha Dowda, Patty S. Freedson, Karen Eason and Russell R. Pate

The purposes of the study were to assess differences in physical activity levels and correlates of physical activity among overweight (‡ 85 th percentile of body mass index for their sex and age) and non-overweight (< 85th percentile) youth. The sample included 509 seventh through twelfth graders. Activity was measured by a 7-day, 46-item activity checklist. Overweight girls were more sedentary than non-overweight girls (p < .03), and non-overweight girls engaged in more vigorous physical activity than overweight girls (p < .03). For boys, there were no significant differences in activity. The regression analyses for vigorous activity yielded the largest total R2’s (R2 = .49 for overweight and R2 = .27 for non-overweight.) The significant factor for overweight youth was greater athletic coordination (p < .01). For non-overweight youth, the significant factors were greater family support (p < .05), greater peer support (p < .001), fewer barriers (p < .03), and greater athletic coordination (p < .01). Correlates of physical activity vary by weight status of young people.

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Marsha Dowda, Russell R. Pate, James F. Sallis, Patty S. Freedson, Wendell C. Taylor, John R. Sirard and Stewart G. Trost

Parents and 531 students (46% males, 78% white) completed equivalent questionnaires. Agreement between student and parent responses to questions about hypothesized physical activity (PA) correlates was assessed. Relationships between hypothesized correlates and an objective measure of student’s moderate- to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a subset of 177 students were also investigated. Agreement between student and parent ranged from r = .34 to .64 for PA correlates. Spearman correlations between MVPA and PA correlates ranged from −.04 to .21 for student report and −.14 to .32 for parent report, and there were no statistical differences for 8 out of 9 correlations between parent and student. Parents can provide useful data on PA correlates for students in Grades 7–12.

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Wendell C. Taylor, James F. Sallis, Emily Lees, Joseph T. Hepworth, Karina Feliz, Devin C. Volding, Andrea Cassels and Jonathan N. Tobin

Background:

Middle age and older (mean = 58.7 y), racial/ethnic minority women report low levels of physical activity. Recommendations to change the social and built environments to promote physical activity in this group are underdeveloped. Two research questions guided this study: What environmental changes are recommended by racial/ethnic minority women? What policies are related to the environmental changes?

Methods:

The findings from nine Nominal Group Technique sessions with 45 subjects were analyzed.

Results:

More police protection, cleaner streets, removal of drugs from streets, more street lights, walking groups, and free gyms were prioritized by subjects as the most important recommendations. The relevant policies included municipal, police department, sanitation department, public works, and transportation department.

Conclusions:

Racial/ethnic minority women living in low income, urban areas recommend improvements that affect overall quality of life. Meeting basic needs may be a prerequisite for use of physical activity resources.