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Ana Henderson and Christine R. Fry

Background:

Improving parks in low income and minority neighborhoods may be a key way to increase physical activity and decrease overweight and obesity prevalence among children at the greatest risk. To advocate effectively for improved recreation infrastructure, public health advocates must understand the legal and policy landscape in which public recreation decisions are made.

Methods:

In this descriptive legal analysis, we reviewed federal, state, and local laws to determine the authority of each level of government over parks. We then examined current practices and state laws regarding park administration in urban California and rural Texas.

Results:

We identified several themes through the analysis: (1) multiple levels of governments are often involved in parks offerings in a municipality, (2) state laws governing parks vary, (3) local authority may vary substantially within a state, and (4) state law may offer greater authority than local jurisdictions use.

Conclusions:

Public health advocates who want to improve parks need to (1) think strategically about which levels of government to engage; (2) identify parks law and funding from all levels of government, including those not typically associated with local parks; and (3) partner with advocates with similar interests, including those from active living and school communities.

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Karen Martin, Alexandra Bremner, Jo Salmon, Michael Rosenberg and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

The objective of this study was to develop a multidomain model to identify key characteristics of the primary school environment associated with children’s physical activity (PA) during class-time.

Methods:

Accelerometers were used to calculate time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during class-time (CMVPA) of 408 sixth-grade children (mean ± SD age 11.1 ± 0.43 years) attending 27 metropolitan primary schools in Perth Western Australia. Child and staff self-report instruments and a school physical environment scan administered by the research team were used to collect data about children and the class and school environments. Hierarchical modeling identified key variables associated with CMVPA.

Results:

The final multilevel model explained 49% of CMVPA. A physically active physical education (PE) coordinator, fitness sessions incorporated into PE sessions and either a trained PE specialist, classroom teacher or nobody coordinating PE in the school, rather than the deputy principal, were associated with higher CMVPA. The amount of grassed area per student and sporting apparatus on grass were also associated with higher CMVPA.

Conclusion:

These results highlight the relevance of the school’s sociocultural, policy and physical environments in supporting class-based PA. Interventions testing optimization of the school physical, sociocultural and policy environments to support physical activity are warranted.

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Jennifer Dill and Deborah Howe

Background:

Research has established that built environments, including street networks, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and land uses, can positively affect the frequency and duration of daily physical activity. Attention is now being given to policy frameworks such as zoning codes that set the standards and expectations for this built environment.

Methods:

We examined the adoption and implementation of mixed-use and related zoning provisions with specific attention to the role that physical activity serves as a motivation for such policies and to what extent public health agencies influence the adoption process. A sample of planning directors from 53 communities with outstanding examples of mixed-use developments and 145 randomly selected midsized communities were surveyed.

Results:

Physical activity is not a dominant motivator in master plans and/or zoning codes and public health agencies played minor roles in policy adoption. However, physical activity as a motivation appears to be increasing in recent years and is associated with higher levels of policy innovation.

Conclusions:

Recommendations include framing the importance of physical activity in terms of other dominant concerns such as livability, dynamic centers, and economic development. Health agencies are encouraged to work in coalitions to focus arguments on behalf of physical activity.

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Jennifer McConnell-Nzunga, Katie A. Weatherson, Louise Masse, Valerie Carson, Guy Faulkner, Erica Lau, Heather McKay, Viviene Temple, Luke Wolfenden and Patti J. Naylor

PA behaviours. 3 Child care settings can provide opportunities for PA through their physical environments, policies, and practices 4 and their broad reach. In 2011, 62% of Canadian parents reported using some type of child care for their 3-year-old children, 64% for 4-year-old children, and 52% for

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Meghan McGurk and Jay Maddock

Background:

Obesity and lack of physical activity are major public health problems in the United States. Well-designed, active living communities (ALCs) can help support physically active lifestyles. This study assessed attitudes of Hawaii decision makers in 2007 and 2013 to determine if priorities toward ALCs changed.

Methods:

Elected and appointed state and county officials were mailed surveys both years. Respondents rated the importance of 23 specified problems, which included 1 obesity variable and 5 ALC variables.

Results:

The survey was completed by 126 (70.4%) respondents in 2007 and 117 (60.9%) in 2013. Among the specific problems, only obesity increased in rank from 14th to ninth place. Three variables fell more than 2 places: increasing traffic (fifth to seventh place), poorly planned development and sprawl (seventh to 11th place) and pedestrian safety (12th to 17th place). The other 2 stayed relatively the same: lack of pedestrian walkways, sidewalks, and crosswalks (16th to 15th place) and lack of recreational activities (22nd to 23rd place).

Conclusions:

Across years, obesity concerns have increased but do not appear to be tied to increases in concern for ALC variables. More education for policymakers on the link between obesity, physical activity, and the built environment is necessary.

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Rodrigo S. Reis, Pedro C. Hallal, Diana C. Parra, Isabela C. Ribeiro, Ross C. Brownson, Michael Pratt, Christine M. Hoehner and Luiz Ramos

Background:

Community programs have been suggested to be an important and promising strategy for physical activity (PA) promotion. Limited evidence is available regarding knowledge of and participation in these programs in Latin America.

Objective:

To describe participation in and knowledge of community PA programs and to explore associations with leisure-time PA in the city of Curitiba, Brazil.

Methods:

A cross sectional telephone survey was conducted among adults in Curitiba, Brazil (n = 2097). The International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to determine levels of PA, and specific questions were used to evaluate the extent to which respondents knew about or participated in the programs conducted by the municipality. Logistic regression was used to assess the meeting of PA recommendations in leisure time based on program knowledge and participation.

Results:

Knowledge of PA programs was high (91.6%) and 5.6% of population participated in the programs. After adjusting for individual characteristics, exposure to Curitiba's PA community programs was associated with leisure-time PA (POR = 2.9, 95% CI = 2.9−3.0) and walking for leisure (POR = 2.4; 95% CI = 2.3−2.4). The associations were stronger among men than among women.

Conclusions:

Knowledge and participation in Curitiba's community PA programs were associated with meeting recommended levels of PA in leisure time.

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Emily Goodman, W. Douglas Evans and Loretta DiPietro

Background:

The school setting could be a primary venue for promoting physical activity among inner-city children due to the structured natured of the school day. We examined differences in step counts between structured school days (SSD) and weekend days (WED) among a sample of public school children in Washington, DC.

Methods:

Subjects (N = 29) were third- to sixth-grade students enrolled in government-funded, extended-day enrichment programs. Step counts were measured using a pedometer (Bodytronics) over 2 SSD and 2 WED. Differences in mean step counts between SSD and WED were determined using multivariable linear regression, with adjustments for age, sex, and reported distance between house and school (miles).

Results:

Recorded step counts were low on both SSD and WED (7735 ± 3540 and 8339 ± 5314 steps/day). Boys tended to record more steps on SSD compared with girls (8080 ± 3141 vs. 7491 ± 3872 steps/day, respectively), whereas girls recorded more steps on the WED compared with boys (9292 ± 6381 vs. 7194 ± 3669 steps/day). Parameter estimates from the regression modeling suggest distance from school (P < .01) to be the strongest predictor of daily step counts, independent of day (SSD/WED), sex, and age.

Conclusion:

Among inner-city school children, a safe walking route to and from school may provide an important opportunity for daily physical activity.