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Hyung Jin Kim and Chanam Lee

Background:

A public elementary school has traditionally functioned as an important center of a neighborhood, but this role has diminished with sprawling urban developments. Despite the large number of studies of children’s walking to/from school (WTS), the school’s location in relation to the larger neighborhood context has not been fully explored. This study is to examine the relationship between school’s spatial centrality and children’s WTS in urban, suburban and rural settings.

Methods:

this study used school travel tally (11,721 students), environment audit, GIS and census data from 71 elementary school/neighborhoods in Texas, and employed the closeness centrality index to estimate a school’s spatial centrality. Data were collected from 2009–2012.

Results:

After controlling for neighborhood characteristics, it was found that more centrally located schools are likely to have higher proportions of WTS in the neighborhoods. And, among urban, suburban and rural settings, urban schools were the most and rural schools were the least likely to be centrally-located in the neighborhoods.

Conclusions:

The findings offer implications on school and community planning policies that can help promote WTS. Spatial centrality measures can be effective tools to identify environmental factors in complex urban networks related to human behaviors and community-based activities.

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Jennifer L. Gay, Marsha Dowda, Ruth Saunders and Alexandra Evans

Background:

Children in residential children’s homes (RCH) may be at increased risk for physical inactivity due to decreased access to opportunities for activity. Little is known about environmental determinants of physical activity for children in RCH.

Methods:

Thirty-minute blocks of MVPA and Total METs were measured using the 3-Day Physical Activity Recall (3DPAR). A staff interview, based on the Structural Ecologic Model of Health Behavior, assessed physical activity opportunities, structures, characteristics, policies, and social environment. Wilcoxon 2-sample tests were used to examine differences in environment by location and presence of a recreation director. Mixed model ANOVAs assessed the differences in child level activity by environmental variables.

Results:

There were significant correlations between opportunities and characteristics of physical activity, facilities, and equipment with total METS for children. Children in homes with a recreation director and homes in rural locations reported more physical activity. Only rural location had a significant effect on physical activity. Presence of a recreation director was significant in several models.

Conclusions:

Rural location may be conducive for increased physical activity in children at RCH. Employing a recreation director or other trained personnel may be an important policy determinant of physical activity for children.

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Chanam Lee, Hyung Jin Kim, Diane M. Dowdy, Deanna M. Hoelscher and Marcia G. Ory

Background:

Several environmental audit instruments have been developed for assessing streets, parks and trails, but none for schools. This paper introduces a school audit tool that includes 3 subcomponents: 1) street audit, 2) school site audit, and 3) map audit. It presents the conceptual basis and the development process of this instrument, and the methods and results of the reliability assessments.

Methods:

Reliability tests were conducted by 2 trained auditors on 12 study schools (high-low income and urban-suburban-rural settings). Kappa statistics (categorical, factual items) and ICC (Likert-scale, perceptual items) were used to assess a) interrater, b) test-retest, and c) peak vs. off-peak hour reliability tests.

Results:

For the interrater reliability test, the average Kappa was 0.839 and the ICC was 0.602. For the test-retest reliability, the average Kappa was 0.903 and the ICC was 0.774. The peak–off peak reliability was 0.801. Rural schools showed the most consistent results in the peak–off peak and test-retest assessments. For interrater tests, urban schools showed the highest ICC, and rural schools showed the highest Kappa.

Conclusions:

Most items achieved moderate to high levels of reliabilities in all study schools. With proper training, this audit can be used to assess school environments reliably for research, outreach, and policy-support purposes.

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Jill A. Nolan, Christa L. Lilly, Janie M. Leary, Wesley Meeteer, Hugh D. Campbell, Geri A. Dino and Leslie Cotrell

Background:

Parent support for child physical activity is a consistent predictor of increased childhood activity. Little is known about factors that prevent or facilitate support. The purpose of this research was to identify barriers to parent support for child physical activity in Appalachian parents.

Methods:

A cross-sectional study assessed parents whose children participated in Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities (CARDIAC) screenings in a rural Appalachian state. Barriers to parental support for physical activity, demographics, geographic location, and parental support for activity were measured.

Results:

A total of 475 parents completed surveys. The majority were mothers (86.7%), parents of kindergarteners (49.5%), white (89.3%), and living in a nonrural area (70.5%). Community-level factors were most frequently cited as barriers, particularly those related to the built environment. Rural and low-income parents reported significantly higher barriers. Community, interpersonal, and intrapersonal barriers were negatively correlated with parent support for child physical activity. Parents of girls reported a higher percentage of barriers related to safety.

Conclusions:

Reported barriers in this sample differed from those reported elsewhere (Davison, 2009). Specific groups such as low-income and rural parents should be targeted in intervention efforts. Future research should explore gender differences in reported barriers to determine the influence of cultural stereotypes.

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Mohamed Kanu, Elizabeth Baker and Ross C. Brownson

Objective:

This study tested associations between church-based instrumental and informational social support and meeting physical activity guidelines.

Methods:

Cross-sectional data were analyzed for 1625 rural residents using logistic regression.

Results:

Associations were found between instrumental social support and performing some amount of physical activity but not between the 2 forms of support and meeting physical activity guidelines.

Conclusion:

Instrumental social support might help initiation of physical activity. Given that 54.1% of US adults get no leisure-time physical activity at the recommended minimum level, instrumental social support might be important in considering physical activity programs.

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Leonard Marquart and Jeffery Sobal

This study examined the beliefs and sources of information regarding muscle development among 742 high school athletes in one rural county. About 40% of the athletes stated that muscle development was very important and 50% said it was somewhat important. Most of them recognized the dangers of steroids but still thought these were important in muscle development. A majority also thought nutritional and genetic factors were important. Physicians were seen as providing the most accurate information about muscle development, followed by coaches and trainers. Understanding the athletes’ beliefs and information sources about muscle development may be useful in dispelling misconceptions and providing education on the topic.

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Carlos J. Crespo, Mario R. Garcia-Palmieri, Ellen Smit, I-Min Lee, Daniel McGee, Paola Muti, Nayda R. Figueroa Valle, Farah A. Ramirez-Marrero, Jo L. Freudenheim and Paul Sorlie

Studies on the association between physical activity and fatal prostate cancer have produced inconclusive results. The Puerto Rico Heart Health Program was a cohort study of a randomly selected sample of 9824 men age 35 to 79 years at baseline who were followed for mortality until 2002. Multiple examinations collected information on lifestyle, diet, body composition, exercise, urban-rural residence, and smoking habits. Physical activity status was measured using the Framingham Physical Activity Index, an assessment of occupational, leisure-time, and other physical activities measured as usual activity over the course of a 24-hour day. Physical activity was strati-fed into quartiles. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association of physical activity with prostate cancer mortality. Other covariates included age, education, urban-rural residence, smoking, and body mass index. Compared with the lowest level of physical activity (Q1), the risk of prostate cancer mortality was OR = 0.99 (95% CI = 0.64–1.55) for Q2, OR = 1.34 (95% CI = 0.88–2.05) for Q3, and OR = 1.19 (95% CI = 0.75–1.90) for Q4. Further analyses by age group, overweight status, or vigorous physical activity also did not show a significant association between physical activity and prostate cancer mortality. Physical activity did not predict prostate cancer mortality in this group of Puerto Rican men.

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Tyler G. Johnson, Timothy A. Brusseau, Susan Vincent Graser, Paul W. Darst and Pamela H. Kulinna

Background:

The purpose of this study was to conduct a secondary analysis by combining 2 pedometer data sets to describe and analyze pedometer-determined steps/day of children by ethnicity and metropolitan status.

Methods:

Participants were 582 children (309 girls, 273 boys; 53% Hispanic, 26% Caucasian, 21% African American) age 10 to 11 years (M = 10.37 ± 0.48) attending 1 of 10 schools located in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Participants wore a research grade pedometer for at least 3 week/school days. Mean steps/ day were analyzed by gender, ethnicity, and metropolitan status.

Results:

Statistical analyses indicated 1) boys (12,853 ± 3831; P < .001) obtained significantly more steps/day than girls (10,409 ± 3136); 2) African American (10,709 ± 3386; P < .05) children accumulated significantly less steps/day than Hispanic (11,845 ± 3901) and Caucasian (11,668 ± 3369) children; and 3) urban (10,856 ± 3706; P < .05) children obtained significantly less steps/day than suburban (12,297 ± 3616) and rural (11,934 ± 3374) children.

Conclusions:

Findings support self-report data demonstrating reduced physical activity among African American children and youth, especially girls, and among children and youth living in urban areas. Possible reasons for these discrepancies are explored.

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Kathleen Van Royen, Roosmarijn Verstraeten, Susana Andrade, Angélica Ochoa-Avilés, Silvana Donoso, Lea Maes and Patrick Kolsteren

Background:

Physical inactivity levels are increasingly prevalent among Ecuadorian adolescents. School-based interventions can be potentially effective in promoting physical activity but must be informed by cultural-specific factors.

Methods:

Twelve focus groups were carried out with adolescents (n = 80) in rural and urban Ecuador to identify factors influencing physical activity. In addition, 4 focus group discussions with parents (n = 32) and 4 with school staff (n = 32) were conducted. Individual and environmental factors were questioned using the ‘Attitude, Social influences and Self-efficacy’ model and the socioecological model as theoretical frameworks.

Results:

Factors influencing physical activity varied between groups. In the rural area farming and norms for girls impeded leisure-time physical activity, whereas urban groups emphasized traffic and crime concerns. Groups from a low socioeconomic status more frequently mentioned a fear of injuries and financial constraints. Several factors were common for all groups including preferences for sedentary activities, poor knowledge, time constraints and laziness, as well as a lack of opportunities at home and school, unsupportive parental rules and lack of role models.

Conclusion:

A conceptual framework including the identified factors emerged to inform the design of a cultural-sensitive school-based intervention to improve physical activity among Ecuadorian adolescents. Future interventions should be tailored to each setting.

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Joanna Kostka, Tomasz Kostka and Ewa Borowiak

Background:

The goal of this study was to assess the physical activity (PA) and its determinants of older people living in the 3 different environments.

Methods:

Three equal (n = 693 each) groups of individuals aged ≥65 years living in urban, rural and institutional environments took part in this study. PA was measured by the Seven Day Recall PA Questionnaire (energy expenditure—PA-EE) and the Stanford Usual Activity Questionnaire (health-related behaviors—PA-HRB).

Results:

PA-EE was highest in the rural environment and lowest in nursing homes. PA-HRB were most common in urban area. Older age, lower education level, several concomitant diseases and the number of systematically used medications were consistently related to lower PA-EE and PA-HRB. Smoking habit, presence of hypertension, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal disorders had different association to PA-EE and PA-HRB in the 3 environments.

Conclusions:

Subpopulations of older people differ from the general population with regard to their level of PA and its association with sociodemographic data and concomitant diseases. Concomitant serious diseases significantly decrease the level of PA of older subjects. The relationship between PA and nondebilitating disorders may vary depending on the living environment or PA assessment methodology.