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Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health in Aging Women: A Health-Promotion Perspective

Jo-Ann V. Sawatzky and Barbara J. Naimark

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between physical activity and other determinants of cardiovascular health in aging women from a health-promotion perspective. Participants (N = 206) completed a cardiovascular health-promotion profile, and various physical measures were recorded. The findings suggest that physically active aging women, especially those who exercise regularly or vigorously, have healthier cardiovascular profiles than do their less active counterparts. They were more likely to be members of a health and fitness facility, to be younger, and have higher socioeconomic status. Their diets were healthier, and their perception of their health status was more positive. Physical measures of cardiovascular health also decreased with increased levels of activity (p < .05). These findings validate physical activity promotion as an effective strategy to ameliorate the cardiovascular health profile of aging women. The study also lends support for population-based cardiovascular health-promotion strategies.

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Are Correlates of Physical Activity in Adolescents Similar Across Ethnicity/Race and Sex: Implications for Interventions

Jonathan M. Miller, Mark A. Pereira, Julian Wolfson, Melissa N. Laska, Toben F. Nelson, and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Background: This study tested for differences in personal, social, and environmental correlates of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) across ethnicity/race in male and female adolescents. Methods: Self-reported MVPA and 47 potential correlates of MVPA were measured in an ethnically/racially diverse cross-sectional sample of adolescents, in Minnesota, who participated in EAT-2010 (Eating and Activity in Teens). Interactions of potential correlates with ethnicity/race on MVPA were tested in linear hierarchical regression models in boys and girls. Results: Boys reported 1.7 more weekly hours of MVPA than girls. White adolescents reported 1.1 to 2.1 more weekly hours of MVPA than nonwhite adolescents. Among girls, neighborhood road connectivity was negatively correlated with MVPA among Hispanic and Asian participants. Among boys, sports participation was positively correlated with MVPA among all ethnicities/races, except Asians. Home media equipment was positively correlated with MVPA among Hispanic boys, but negatively correlated among white boys. Conclusions: A few correlates of physical activity among adolescents differed intersectionally by ethnicity/race and sex. Sports participation and home media equipment may have differing impacts on physical activity across ethnicities and races in boys, whereas neighborhood features like road connectivity may have differing impacts on physical activity across ethnicities and races in girls.

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Understanding the Demographic Differences in Neighborhood Walking Supports

Susan A. Carlson, Kathleen B. Watson, Prabasaj Paul, Thomas L. Schmid, and Janet E. Fulton


Information about how presence and usefulness of neighborhood supports for walking differs by demographic characteristics can help guide community strategies to promote walking.


Reported presence and usefulness of neighborhood supports (shops, transit stops, sidewalks, parks, interesting things to look at, well-lit at night, low crime rate, and cars following speed limit) were examined in 3973 U.S. adults who completed the 2014 SummerStyles survey.


Percentage reporting neighborhood supports as present ranged from 25.3% (SE = 0.8) for interesting things to 55.8% (SE = 1.0) for low crime rate. Percentage who reported a support as useful ranged from 24.6% (SE = 1.4) for transit stops to 79.0% (SE = 1.1) for sidewalks among those with the support. This percentage ranged from 13.4% (SE = 0.8) for transit stops to 52.8% (SE = 1.1) for shops among those without the support. One or more demographic differences were observed for the presence of each support, and the presence of all supports differed by education and metro status. Demographic patterns were less clear when examining usefulness and patterns often differed by support type and presence.


Presence and usefulness of neighborhood supports for walking can differ by type and demographic characteristics. Recognizing these difference can help communities plan and implement strategies to promote walking.

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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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The Influence of Social Support Specific to Physical Activity on Physical Activity Among College and University Students: A Systematic Review

Pierre Van Luchene and Cécile Delens

Background: Starting college or university is a significant life event that can impact students’ physical activity (PA). Social support specific to PA (SSPA) is a social determinant of PA among college and university students. This review had 3 aims: (1) to systematically review studies examining the association between SSPA and PA among students; (2) to examine whether potential associations differed in terms of types or sources of SSPA; and (3) to examine whether any potential associations differed in terms of gender. Methods: Studies were identified using Academic Search Premier, PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts, and SPORTDiscus. Results: This review included 25 papers. The results suggested that there is a positive association between SSPA and PA among college and university students. Although the importance of different sources of SSPA is not clear, the results suggested that family and friends provide significant SSPA. Conclusions: High variability in measurement methods made it difficult to compare studies and to come to a clear consensus. However, the findings suggested that SSPA may be a determinant of PA. In order to better understand the relationship between SSPA and PA among students, some elements, such as gender, socioeconomic level, and off- or on-campus housing, should be considered in future studies.

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Developmental Trends and Determinants of Physical Activity From Adolescence to Adulthood Differ by Ethnicity/Race and Sex

Jonathan Miller, Mark Pereira, Julian Wolfson, Melissa Laska, Toben Nelson, and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Background: Interventions to raise population physical activity generally show modest effects; one possible reason is that trends and determinants of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) differ between population subgroups. This study examined differences in trends and determinants of reported MVPA by ethnicity/race and sex in a 15-year longitudinal study. Methods: Participants (n = 2092) in the Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults study were surveyed on MVPA behavior and potential determinants from adolescence to young adulthood. Generalized estimating equations were used to model age trends in MVPA and associations with determinants. Results: Mean MVPA declined by 2.1 hours per week over 15 years of follow-up from adolescence to young adulthood. Asian males reported the lowest levels of MVPA at each age. Nonwhite females reported less MVPA than white females at each age. The association of body mass index (BMI) with MVPA differed by sex and ethnicity/race. Asian males and females showed lower levels of MVPA at both low and high BMI. Conclusions: Interventions to increase MVPA may need to begin earlier among Asian men and nonwhite women than among other groups. Asian adolescents with lower BMI show lower MVPA and may benefit from additional intervention efforts compared with Asian adolescents with normal BMI.

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Planning Mediates Between Self-Efficacy and Physical Activity Among Motivated Young Adults

Guangyu Zhou, Dongmei Wang, Nina Knoll, and Ralf Schwarzer


Often, motivation to be physically active is a necessary precondition of action but still does not suffice to initiate the target behavior. Instead, motivation needs to be translated into action by a self-regulatory process. Self-efficacy and planning are considered to be useful constructs that help to facilitate such translations.


The aim is to examine the roles of motivation, planning, and self-efficacy as well as the mechanisms that operate in the change of physical activity levels.


In a longitudinal observation study with 249 young adults, self-efficacy, planning, motivation, and physical activity were assessed at 2 points in time, 3 months apart.


Planning served as a mediator between self-efficacy and physical activity, controlling for baseline activity. In addition to this indirect effect, a moderator effect was found between self-efficacy and stages of change on planning. The mediation operated only in motivated, but not in unmotivated students.


A mediation from self-efficacy via planning to physical activity seems to be likely only when people are motivated to become more active.

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Trajectories of Device-Measured Physical Activity During Early Childhood and Its Determinants: Findings From the 2015 Pelotas (Brazil) Birth Cohort Study

Debora Tornquist, Inácio Crochemore-Silva, Luciana Tornquist, Grégore I. Mielke, Ulf Ekelund, Joseph Murray, and Marlos R. Domingues

Background: The objective was to describe trajectories of physical activity (PA) measured by accelerometry during early childhood and to test associations with sociodemographic, gestational, maternal, and perinatal determinants. Methods: Data from 1798 children from the 2015 Pelotas (Brazil) Birth Cohort were analyzed. PA was measured with wrist accelerometers at 1, 2, and 4 years. PA trajectories were estimated using group-based trajectory modeling, and associations with determinants were tested using Poisson regression with robust variance. Results: Two trajectories were identified: Moderate and high PA, both showing a linear increase in PA in the first years but differing in volume. Girls (prevalence ratio [PR]: 0.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.88–0.94), highly educated mothers (PR: 0.93; 95% CI, 0.88–0.97), and high birth weight children (PR: 0.91; 95% CI, 0.85–0.97) showed less probability of high PA trajectory. Birth order ≥3 (PR: 1.06; 95% CI, 1.01–1.11) was associated with higher likelihood of high PA trajectory. Conclusions: Children showed an increase in PA during the first years, with 2 trajectories that differ in PA levels. Female sex, high maternal schooling, and high birth weight reduced the probability of having a high PA trajectory, while higher birth order increased this probability. These characteristics should be considered when planning PA interventions for children in early childhood.

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Physical Activity in the Summer Heat: How Hot Weather Moderates the Relationship Between Built Environment Features and Outdoor Physical Activity of Adults

Kevin Lanza, Brian Stone Jr, Paul M. Chakalian, Carina J. Gronlund, David M. Hondula, Larissa Larsen, Evan Mallen, and Regine Haardörfer

Background: Research has not yet examined how hot weather moderates the relationship between the built environment and outdoor physical activity levels. The authors posited that hot days will increase the magnitude of the expected directional effect of built environment features on physical activity. Methods: This longitudinal study included 134 US adults from the Three city Heat and Electrical failure AdapTation study. Adults self-reported physical activity for multiple summer days (nstudy-days = 742) in 2016. Hot days were defined as ≥90th percentile of daily maximum heat index. Built environment features included density, safety, trees, hilliness, connectivity, access to parks, and access to shops + services. Separate growth curve models with interaction terms (ie, hot day × built environment feature) were run for daily minutes of outdoor physical activity (ie, any activity and recommended activity). Results: Neither hot days nor built environment features impacted outdoor physical activity significantly, and hot days did not moderate the relationship between built environment features and physical activity (P > .05). Conclusions: With adults failing to modify behavior on hot days, cities may be placing adults at increased risk of exertional heat illness. The authors recommend incorporating the risk of exertional heat illness in health impact assessments and deploying heat management strategies.

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Predictors of Success of Workplace Physical Activity Interventions: A Systematic Review

Samuel D. Muir, Sandun S.M. Silva, Mulu A. Woldegiorgis, Hayley Rider, Denny Meyer, and Madawa W. Jayawardana

Background: Despite holding great potential for addressing concerns regarding public health, recent systematic reviews have found effect sizes for interventions targeting physical activity to be small. Before interventions can be improved, the factors influencing outcomes must be identified. This systematic review aimed to identify predictors of success, measured in terms of engagement (eg, involvement duration) and health behavior change (eg, increased step counts), of workplace interventions targeting physical activity. Methods: A structured search of 3 databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science) was conducted to identify articles published between January 2000 and April 2017. For inclusion, articles needed to test a workplace intervention targeting physical activity and perform a quantitative analysis, identifying predictors of engagement or health behavior change. Results: Twenty-two studies were identified for review (median quality score = 70%). Demographic variables (eg, gender, age) were inconsistent predictors of success. However, employees in better health and physically active at baseline were found to have a greater likelihood of success. Conclusions: It appears that achieving successful results among employees at high risk of poor health outcomes remains a significant challenge for interventions. It is hoped that program developers can use this information to create effective interventions particularly for more sedentary employees.