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Pedro C. Hallal, Rodrigo S. Reis, Diana C. Parra, Christine Hoehner, Ross C. Brownson and Eduardo J. Simões

Background:

To evaluate the association between perceived environmental factors and leisure-time and transport-related physical activity.

Methods:

A random-digit-dialing telephone cross-sectional survey in Recife, Brazil, was conducted among individuals aged 16 years or older (n = 2046). Leisure-time and transport-related physical activity were measured using the long version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Three outcome variables were used: leisure-time physical activity (min/wk), transport-related physical activity (min/wk), and walking for leisure (min/wk). A cutoff of 150 min/wk was used for all outcome variables. The environmental module of the questionnaire was based on the short version of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (A-NEWS), and included 12 environmental items.

Results:

The proportions of subjects reaching the 150-minutes per week threshold were 30.6% for leisure-time physical activity, 26.6% for transport-related physical activity and 18.2% for walking for leisure. Lack of sidewalks and low access to recreational facilities were associated with a lower likelihood of performing 150 minutes per week or more of leisure-time physical activity. Lack of sidewalks was associated with low levels of walking for leisure. Neighborhood aesthetics was inversely associated with transport-related physical activity.

Conclusions:

Lack of sidewalks and low access to recreational facilities were predictors of low levels of leisure-time physical activity, suggesting that policy strategies aimed at improving these environmental features may be warranted.

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Tales C. Amorim, Mario R. Azevedo and Pedro C. Hallal

Objective:

To evaluate the association between the physical and social environment and physical activity (leisure-time and transport-related) in a population-based sample of adults.

Methods:

Cross-sectional study including 972 adults (20−69 years) living in the urban area of Pelotas, Brazil. Physical activity was measured using the long International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Environmental variables were assessed using a modified version of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale.

Results:

69.8% (95% CI = 66.9−72.7) and 51.9% (95% CI = 48.8−55.1) of the subjects did not reach 150 min/wk on leisure-time and transport-related physical activity, respectively. Subjects living near green areas were more likely to be active in leisure-time, as well as those who reported to live in safe neighborhoods. Transport-related physical activity was higher among individuals living in areas with garbage accumulation, and was lower among those living in neighborhoods which are difficult to walk or cycle due to traffic. Social support was strongly associated with leisure-time physical activity.

Conclusions:

Safety investments, which are urgently required in Brazil, are likely to have a desirable side effect at increasing physical activity at the population level. Building enjoyable and safe public spaces for physical activity practice must be prioritized.

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Marianne Nichol, Ian Janssen and William Pickett

Background:

The safety of neighborhoods and availability of parks and facilities may influence adolescent physical activity independently or interactively.

Methods:

9114 Canadians in grades 6 to 10 completed the 2006 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children Survey. The outcome of interest was students’ self-reported participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity outside of school. A composite scale based on questions measuring student perceptions of safety was used to capture individual perceptions of safety. In addition, schools were grouped into quintiles based on the mean of the perceived safety scale, used as a proxy for peer perceptions. The number of parks and recreational facilities within 5 km of schools was abstracted from a geographical information system.

Results:

Moderate gradients in physical activity were observed according to individual and group perceptions of safety. Boys and girls with the highest perceptions of safety were 1.31 (95% CI: 1.17−1.45) and 1.45 (1.26−1.65) times more likely to be physically active, respectively, than those with the lowest perceptions. Compared with those who perceived the neighborhood as least safe, elementary students in higher quintiles were 1.31, 1.39, 1.37, and 1.56 times more likely to be physically active (P trend = 0.012). Increased numbers of recreational features were not related to physical activity irrespective of neighborhood safety.

Conclusions:

Individual and group perceptions of neighborhood safety were modestly associated with adolescents’ physical activity.

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Diana Marina Camargo, Paula Camila Ramírez, Vanesa Quiroga, Paola Ríos, Rogério César Férmino and Olga L. Sarmiento

Background: Public parks are an important resource for the promotion of physical activity (PA). This is the first study in Colombia and the fourth in Latin America to describe the characteristics of park users and their levels of PA using objective measures. Methods: A systematic observation assessed sex, age, and the level of PA of users of 10 parks in an intermediate-size city in Colombia, classified in low (5 parks) and high (5 parks) socioeconomic status (SES). A total of 10 daily observations were conducted, in 5 days of the week during 3 periods: morning, afternoon, and evening. Results: In total, 16,671 observations were completed, recording 46,047 users. A higher number of users per park, per day, were recorded in high SES (1195) versus low SES (647). More men were observed in low-SES than high-SES parks (70.1% vs 54.2%), as well as more children were observed in low-SES than high-SES parks (30.1% vs 15.9%). Older adults in high-SES parks were more frequent (9.5% vs 5.2%). Moderate to vigorous PA was higher in low-SES parks (71.7% vs 63.2%). Conclusions: Low-SES parks need more green spaces, walk/bike trails, and areas for PA. All parks need new programs to increase the number of users and their PA level, considering sex, age group, and period of the week.