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Utilization of Collaborations to Engage Children in Physical Activity: A Community-Based Research Approach

Sheri J. Brock, Danielle Wadsworth, Shelby Foote, and Mary E. Rudisill

Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to prioritize the needs of society and local communities. One essential need prevalent in all communities is to address the rise of obesity and health risks due to lack of participation in physical activity. In the United States, children spend a small percentage of time engaged in physical activity, and engagement decreases further in adolescence and adulthood. Collaborative partnerships between kinesiology faculty at universities and community organizations are one avenue for engaging children in physical activity. Partnerships must be multilevel and community wide to evoke change and have long-term impact and sustainability. Within the context of community-based research, we propose a three-step framework for establishing collaborative partnerships: (1) determining the needs of partners; (2) discussing expertise, services, and philosophy; and (3) providing a quality product. In addition, we outline and illustrate our experiences when collaborating with community partners to promote physical activity.

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Grow Healthy Together: Effects of Policy and Environmental Interventions on Physical Activity Among Urban Children and Youth

Gregory W. Heath and John Bilderback

Background: There is a paucity of studies, especially among diverse populations, demonstrating the effects of policy and environmental interventions to increase regular physical activity. The Grow Healthy Together Chattanooga project provided the opportunity to assess the impact of physical activity policy and environmental interventions on the physical activity among predominately African American children living in the inner city. Methods: Using the System for Observing Physical Activity and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC), the authors examined the physical activity of children along urban pedestrian/bike routes/trails and recreational park areas within the boundaries of the Grow Healthy Together Chattanooga communities. SOPARC data were collected at baseline (fall 2010/spring 2011) and repeated (spring 2014) in each community. Results: The SOPARC assessments yielded a total of 692 child/youth observations in 2010 and 806 observations in 2014. Children/youth observed in 2014 were greater than 2 times the odds of engaging in moderate/vigorous physical activity compared with their 2010 counterparts (odds ratio  = 2.75, 95% confidence interval, 1.43–5.32). Conclusions: The present findings support the hypothesis that policy and environmental interventions can contribute to increased physical activity levels among children/youth over ∼3-year period. These results provide evidence that improved access to “urban” pedestrian/bicycle routes/trails appears to translate into increased opportunities for physical activity among inner city children/youth.

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The Implementation of a National Physical Activity Intervention in Colombia

Lukas K. Gaffney, Oscar D. Lozano, Adriana Almanza, Nubia Ruiz, Alejandro Mantero, and Mark Stoutenberg

Background: In 2011, the Colombian government started a nationwide program, Hábitos y Estilos de Vida Saludable (HEVS; Healthy Life Habits), providing free, community-based physical activity classes for individuals across Colombia. This study describes the HEVS program, participant characteristics, and changes in anthropomorphic and health measures following the program. Methods: In this observational study, demographic information, current health status, lifestyle habits, and anthropomorphic measures were collected from adult HEVS participants at baseline and after program completion 11 months later. Changes in anthropomorphic and health measurements after the HEVS program were compared in the same participants using a paired t test and McNemar test, respectively. Results: A total of 56,472 adult participants (86.5% female) enrolled in the HEVS program. The greatest proportion of participants was between the ages of 18 and 34 years. Prior to participating in HEVS, mean body mass index and waist circumference were 26.3 kg/m2 and 85.7 cm, respectively. Postprogram data from 17,145 individuals showed statistically significant decreases in body mass index, waist circumference, and the proportion of patients with self-reported hypertension. Conclusions: The HEVS program successfully engaged a large number of Colombians in physical activity and resulted in significant improvements in their health, demonstrating the effectiveness of a government-supported, community-based physical activity program.

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If You Make it Free, Will They Come? Using a Physical Activity Accessibility Model to Understand the Use of a Free Children’s Recreation Pass

Andrew F. Clark, Joannah Campbell, Patricia Tucker, Piotr Wilk, and Jason A. Gilliland

Background: Children’s sedentary lifestyles and low physical activity levels may be countered using population-level interventions. This study examines factors influencing the use of a free community-wide physical activity access pass for grade 5 students (G5AP). Methods: A natural experiment with longitudinal data collection. A sample of 881 children completed the 9-month follow-up survey self-reporting where they used the G5AP. Two analyses were conducted: Getis-Ord GI* geographic cluster analysis of the spatial distribution of users, and logistic regression examining the relationship between use and accessibility (informational, economic, and geographic) and mobility options, while accounting for intrapersonal and interpersonal factors. Results: Overall, 44.9% of children used the G5AP with clusters of high use in urban areas and low use in the suburbs. Other factors significantly related to G5AP included gender (girls), informational accessibility (active recruitment), economic accessibility (median household income), geographic accessibility (facilities within 1.6 km of home), and mobility options (access to Boys & Girls Club bus). Conclusions: This study found that a diverse population of children used the G5AP. To continue being successful, community-based physical activity interventions need to ensure that the intervention increases geographic, economic, and informational accessibility and provides mobility options that are available to the target population.

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Parental Physical Activity Associates With Offspring’s Physical Activity Until Middle Age: A 30-Year Study

Kaisa Kaseva, Taina Hintsa, Jari Lipsanen, Laura Pulkki-Råback, Mirka Hintsanen, Xiaolin Yang, Mirja Hirvensalo, Nina Hutri-Kähönen, Olli Raitakari, Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, and Tuija Tammelin


Parents’ physical activity associates with their children’s physical activity. Prospective designs assessing this association are rare. This study examined how parents’ physical activity was associated with their children’s physical activity from childhood to middle adulthood in a 30-year prospective, population-based setting.


Participants (n = 3596) were from the ongoing Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study started in 1980. Participants’ physical activity was self-reported at 8 phases from 1980 to 2011, and their parents’ physical activity at 1980. Analyses were adjusted for a set of health-related covariates assessed from 1980 to 2007.


High levels of mothers’ and fathers’ physical activity were systematically associated with increased levels of their children’s physical activity until offspring’s age of 24. Longitudinal analyses conducted from 1980 to 2011 showed that higher levels of parents’ physical activity were associated with increased levels of physical activity within their offspring until midlife, but the association between parents’ and their children’s physical activity weakened when participants aged (P < .05). Covariate adjustment did not attenuate the association.


This study suggests that parents’ physical activity assessed in their offspring’s childhood contributes favorably to offspring’s physical activity from childhood to middle age.

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Perceived Environmental Barriers and Behavioral Factors as Possible Mediators Between Acculturation and Leisure-Time Physical Activity Among Mexican American Adults

Carla L. Dellaserra, Noe C. Crespo, Michael Todd, Jennifer Huberty, and Sonia Vega-López

Background: The association between acculturation and physical activity (PA) among Mexican American (MA) adults is not understood. This study assessed potential mediating factors that may explain these associations among 75 healthy MA adults [age: 37.5 (9.3) y; 65.3% female]. Methods: Secondary data analysis using hierarchical logistic regression examined whether perceived environmental barriers, social support, and intention to exercise potentially mediated relationships between acculturation level, and total and leisure-time moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA). Data were collected via questionnaire. Results: Most participants (67%) reported lower average household monthly incomes ($0–$3000), completed some college or obtained a college degree (64.4%), and were first generation immigrants (59%). Acculturation was associated with greater odds of engaging in total MVPA [odds ratio (OR) = 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2–2.4] and leisure-time MVPA (OR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1–1.2). Perceived environmental barriers were associated with greater odds of engaging in both total and leisure-time MVPA (OR = 4.3; 95% CI, 2.1–5.8 and OR = 5.5; 95% CI, 2.0–7.0, respectively), and social support was associated with greater odds for total MVPA (OR = 3.7; 95% CI, 1.1–6.4). Conclusions: Results provide preliminary evidence for mediating factors that may explain the relationship between acculturation level and PA among MA adults. Contradicting prior evidence, results suggest that PA engagement, despite perceived environmental barriers, is possible among MA adults having stronger social support.

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Physical Activity in an Underserved Population: Identifying Technology Preferences

Robert Medairos, Vicky Kang, Carissa Aboubakare, Matthew Kramer, and Sheila Ann Dugan


This study aims to identify patterns of use and preferences related to technology platforms that could support physical activity (PA) programs in an underserved population.


A 29-item questionnaire was administered at 5 health and wellness sites targeting low income communities in Chicago. Frequency tables were generated for Internet, cell phone, and social media use and preferences. Chi-squared analysis was used to evaluate differences across age and income groups.


A total of 291 individuals participated and were predominantly female (69.0%). Majority reported incomes less than $30,000 (72.9%) and identified as African American/Black/Caribbean (49.3%) or Mexican/Mexican American (34.3%). Most participants regularly used smartphones (63.2%) and the Internet (75.9%). Respondents frequently used Facebook (84.8%), and less commonly used Instagram (43.6%), and Twitter (20.0%). Free Internet-based exercise programs were the most preferred method to increase PA levels (31.6%), while some respondents (21.0%) thought none of the surveyed technology applications would help.


Cell phone, Internet, and social media use is common among the surveyed underserved population. Technology preferences to increase PA levels varied, with a considerable number of respondents not preferring the surveyed technology platforms. Creating educational opportunities to increase awareness may maximize the effectiveness of technology-based PA interventions.

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Impact of Outdoor Gyms on Adults’ Participation in Physical Activity: A Natural Experiment in Chile

María J. Oliveros, Pamela Serón, Fernando Lanas, and Shrikant I. Bangdiwala

Background: Although low levels of physical activity have slightly decreased globally, the need to reverse the physical inactivity remains urgent. One approach has been the installation of outdoor gyms (OGs). Method: A natural experiment arose from the installation of OGs in different neighborhoods of the city of Temuco, Chile. Baseline measurements were collected between 2006 and 2017 in a cohort of adults participating in the Prospective Urban & Rural Epidemiology study. Physical activity was assessed with the short version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and time-varying covariates was assessed every 3 years. The multistage hierarchical, nested sampling process and the follow-up assessments led to data correlated at different levels, thus the authors analyzed the data using a logistic multilevel model. Result: 2463 urban adults from 16 neighborhoods, with an average age of 51.7 (9.8) years (67% female), were included. Having an adequate number of OGs improved the odds of complying with the World Health Organization’s recommendations (adjusted odds ratio = 4.64, 3.95–5.45). In addition, being male (odds ratio = 1.53, 1.32–1.77) and under the age of 60 years (odds ratio = 0.83, 0.71–0.97) were associated with being physically active. Conclusion: The presence of more OGs can have a positive impact on physical activity recommendations.

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The Contribution of Leisure Center Usage to Physical Activity in the United Kingdom: Evidence From a Large Population-Based Cohort

Coral L. Hanson, Paul Kelly, Lis Neubeck, Jordan Bell, Holly Gibb, and Kai Jin

Background: Physical activity (PA) levels vary across specific population groups, contributing to health inequalities. Little is known about how local authority leisure centers contribute to population PA and whether this differs by age, sex, or socioeconomic group. Methods: The authors calculated weekly leisure center–based moderate/vigorous PA for 20,904 registered adult users of local authority leisure facilities in Northumberland, United Kingdom, between July 2018 and June 2019, using administrative data. The authors categorized activity levels (<30, 30–149, and ≥150 min/wk) and used ordinal regression to examine predictors for activity category achieved. Results: Registered users were mainly female (58.7%), younger (23.9% of users aged 18–29 y vs 10.1% of those aged 70+ y), and from the 2 most affluent socioeconomic quintiles (53.7%). Median weekly moderate/vigorous leisure center–based activity was 55 minutes per week (interquartile range: 30–99). Being female (odds ratio: 2.09; 95% confidence interval, 1.95–2.35), older (odds ratio: 1.14; 95% confidence interval, 1.11–1.16), and using a large facility (odds ratio: 1.21; 95% confidence interval, 1.03–1.42) were positive predictors of leisure center–based PA. Conclusion: Older adults and females were more likely to be active and achieve the recommended PA levels through usage of the centers. Widespread use of this novel measure of leisure center–based activity would improve the understanding of how local authority leisure centers can address physical inactivity and its associated inequalities.

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Benefits of a Pole Walking Program Offered by Community Organizations on Physical Fitness, Psychological Well-Being, and Cognitive Function Among Older Adults

Baptiste Fournier, Maxime Lussier, Nathalie Bier, Johanne Filiatrault, Manon Parisien, Miguel Chagnon, and Marie-Ève Mathieu

The authors examined the effects of a 12-week pole walking program on function and well-being in 123 older adults aged 60 years and older, recruited by community organizations. The results showed a significant improvement in the participants’ upper and lower limb strength in the experimental groups compared with those in the control groups (p < .05) and a significant deterioration in the walking speed and grip strength in women in the control groups compared with those in the experimental groups (p < .05). Although not statistically significant, the results also showed a trend toward greater improvement in global cognitive function in the participants in the experimental groups (p = .076). These results suggest that a pole walking program provided in natural conditions can improve physical capabilities in older adults. Other studies are warranted to further explore the impact of pole walking programs on older adults offered in such conditions, especially their impact on cognitive functions.