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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Carmen D. Harris, Prabasaj Paul, Xingyou Zhang and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

Fewer than 30% of U.S. youth meet the recommendation to be active > 60 minutes/day. Access to parks may encourage higher levels of physical activity.

Purpose:

To examine differences in park access among U.S. school-age youth, by demographic characteristics and urbanicity of block group.

Methods:

Park data from 2012 were obtained from TomTom, Incorporated. Population data were obtained from the 2010 U.S. Census and American Community Survey 2006–2010. Using a park access score for each block group based on the number of national, state or local parks within one-half mile, we examined park access among youth by majority race/ethnicity, median household income, median education, and urbanicity of block groups.

Results:

Overall, 61.3% of school-age youth had park access—64.3% in urban, 36.5% in large rural, 37.8% in small rural, and 35.8% in isolated block groups. Park access was higher among youth in block groups with higher median household income and higher median education.

Conclusion:

Urban youth are more likely to have park access. However, park access also varies by race/ethnicity, median education, and median household. Considering both the demographics and urbanicity may lead to better characterization of park access and its association with physical activity among youth.

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Emily M. Jones, Andrea R. Taliaferro, Eloise M. Elliott, Sean M. Bulger, Alfgeir L. Kristjansson, William Neal and Ishonté Allar

Increasing rates of childhood obesity has prompted calls for comprehensive approaches to school-based physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP) development and related contextual issues within a rural Appalachian county using a Systems Approach. A multicomponent needs assessment was conducted, including 11 school site visits with interviews with school personnel, physical space audits, and self-reported professional development, curricular, and equipment/resource needs. Data were summarized into case narratives describing context, space/facilities, and school assets/needs. Member checks verified the accuracy of narratives and inductive cross-case analysis was used to explore emergent themes. Six themes emerged: Leadership/Capacity Building, PA Access and Opportunities, Physical Education/PA Equipment and Resources, Physical Fitness Data Management and Reporting, Equity and Access to Safe and Usable Play Spaces, and Community Connections. Results support the feasibility of CSPAPs in rural communities and provide insight to factors influencing CSPAP. This study provides a framework for schools considering the development of CSPAP.

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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.