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Richard Suminski, Katie Heinrich, Jason A. Wasserman and Rafia S. Rasu

Background:

Nonsignificant findings are reported in approximately half of the studies examining correlations between environmental characteristics and walking. One reason could involve spatial incongruence in which environments examined are not necessarily the ones where the behavior occurred.

Purpose:

To study correlates of perceived neighborhood size and the congruence between perceived and investigator defined neighborhood areas.

Methods:

Door-to-door surveys were conducted in 12 U.S. Census block groups with 18- to 87-year-old adults. Participants were asked about exercise participation and to draw a map representing their neighborhood. Geographical information software was used to construct maps, calculate neighborhood areas, and analyze congruence.

Results:

Neighborhood sizes perceived by women were smaller than those perceived by men and positively related to min/wk of biking and education. Education and age were negatively and perceived neighborhood support for exercise was positively associated with perceived neighborhood size in men. Approximately 90% of perceived neighborhood areas overlapped with neighborhood areas defined by circles with 1200-m radii from participants’ homes.

Conclusions:

Several individual characteristics including exercise are associated with perceptions of neighborhood size. Standard investigator-defined neighborhoods using a 1200-m radius (15 min walk) from a participant’s home is sufficient to capture a majority of perceived neighborhood areas.

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Ronald C. Plotnikoff, Klaus Gebel and David Revalds Lubans

Background:

According to social-cognitive theory (SCT), self-efficacy affects health behavior both directly and indirectly by influencing how individuals perceive their environment. This study examines whether perceptions of home and school environment mediate the association between self-efficacy and physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior in adolescent girls.

Methods:

Baseline data from the Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls (NEAT) was used for this study. Grade 8 female students (n = 357) were recruited from 12 secondary schools located in low-income communities in the Hunter Region, New South Wales, Australia. PA was assessed using accelerometers, and sedentary behavior by self-report and accelerometers. Self-reported measures were used for perceived home and school environment and self-efficacy. Multilevel regression models were calculated to determine if the perceived environment mediated the relationship between self-efficacy with both PA and sedentary behavior.

Results:

The perceptions of the school and home environment did not mediate the relationship between PA self-efficacy and PA behavior or sedentary behavior.

Conclusion:

The mediated models were not supported for PA or sedentary behavior. However, other results of this paper may be helpful for future theory development and practice. More research is needed to understand behaviors in unique populations such as this.

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Verity Cleland, Marita Sodergren, Petr Otahal, Anna Timperio, Kylie Ball, David Crawford, Jo Salmon and Sarah A. McNaughton

This study aimed to determine whether associations between the perceived environment and physical activity are moderated by urban-rural status among midolder aged adults. Environmental (safety, aesthetics, physical activity environment) and physical activity (total, leisure, transport) data from 3,888 adults (55 to 65 years) from urban and rural areas of Victoria, Australia, were analyzed. Multinomial logistic regression examined interactions between urban-rural status and environments in associations with physical activity. Significant (P < .05) interactions were evident and indicated positive associations only among older rural adults for both safety and aesthetics with total and transport physical activity (e.g., rural adults reporting higher safety were 91% to 118% more likely to have higher activity than rural adults reporting low safety). In contrast, the physical activity environment was positively associated with leisure activity among only urban adults. Findings suggest that some tailoring of physical activity promotion strategies targeting the environment may be required for urban and rural midolder aged adults.

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Simon Driver

The purpose of the paper is to provide specialists with theoretical frameworks that can be used to guide the creation of physical activity interventions as well as facilitating participation for people with traumatic brain injuries. Two frameworks for examining the physical activity motivation of people with brain injuries are presented. The theories include Bandura’s (1986) self-efficacy theory and Harter’s (1987) mediational model of self-worth. The constructs within both theories are explained and then applied to people with brain injuries. Suggestions for practitioners are also provided about how to manipulate the physical activity environment to promote physical activity participation.

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Brendon Hyndman

Background:

There is more demand than ever for schools to equip children with the necessary skills to be physically active. The purpose of the Environmental Perceptions Investigation of Children’s Physical Activity (EPIC-PA) study was to investigate elementary and secondary school children’s perceptions to enhance the school physical activity environment.

Methods:

Four Australian government schools (2 elementary and 2 secondary) were recruited for the EPIC-PA study. During the study, 78 children were recruited aged 10 to 13 years. The focus group discussions consisted of 54 children (32 elementary and 22 secondary) and the map drawing sessions included 24 children (17 elementary and 7 secondary).

Results:

The findings from the EPIC-PA study revealed insight into uniquely desired features to encourage physical activity such as adventure physical activity facilities (eg, rock climbing walls), recreational physical activity facilities (eg, jumping pillows), physical activity excursions, animal activity programs and teacher-directed activities. In addition to specific features, childrens revealed a host of policies for equipment borrowing, access to sports equipment/areas, music during physical activity time and external physical education lessons.

Conclusions:

Understanding the multiple suggestions from children of features to enhance physical activity can be used by schools and researchers to create environments conducive to physical activity participation.

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Robin Puett, Jane Teas, Vanesa España-Romero, Enrique Garcia Artero, Duck-chul Lee, Meghan Baruth, Xuemei Sui, Jessica Montresor-López and Steven N. Blair

Background:

The importance of physical activity for health is well-established. Questions remain whether outdoor exercise additionally benefits overall mental and physical well-being.

Methods:

Using cross-sectional data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, we examined relationships of physical activity environment (PAE) with reported tension, stress, emotional outlook, and health.

Results:

11,649 participants were included. 18% exercised indoors, 54% outdoors, and 28% in both. Participants who exercised partially or entirely outdoors exercised more. In fully adjusted models, for women combined PAE was protective for worse emotional outlook (OR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.52–0.98). Combined PAE was also protective for reported poor health (OR for women: 0.63; 95% CI: 0.44–0.91; OR for men: 0.75; 95% CI: 0.61–0.92). Amount of physical activity modified PAE relationships with outcomes. Combined and outdoor PAE were more consistently protective for worse outcomes among high activity participants. Regardless of PAE, better outcomes were observed in active versus inactive participants.

Conclusion:

The current study suggests addition of outdoor PAE may be linked with better stress management, outlook and health perceptions for more active populations, whereas indoor PAE may be more important for low active populations. Further research should examine the order of causation and whether type of outdoor PAE (eg, urban, natural) is important.

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Cevdet Cengiz and Mustafa Levent Ince

Background:

The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of a social-ecologic intervention on health-related fitness (HRF) knowledge and behaviors of students (n = 62) living in rural areas.

Methods:

A prepost test control group design was constructed. In addition, qualitative data were collected by focus group discussions in the experimental group. Physical activity environment of a middle school was changed based on the social-ecologic model (SEM) with a focus on intrapersonal, interpersonal, community level, organizational factors, and public policies related to physical activity behavior. Health related fitness knowledge (HRFK) test, pedometer, and perceived physical activity self-efficacy and social support questionnaires were used for data collection.

Results:

Experimental group had significant improvement in HRF knowledge scores, physical activity levels, and social support compared with the control school students. The focus group results also supported the quantitative findings by indicating a perceived increase in physical activity opportunities; knowledge sources; and support from others.

Conclusions:

This study underlines the importance and positive outcomes of SEM in improving HRF knowledge, physical activity level, and social support of students in rural middle school settings.

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Courtney Pilkerton and Thomas K. Bias

Background:

Public health researchers have demonstrated the potential for significant gains in physical activity through public policy. West Virginia passed House Bill 2816, known as the Healthy Lifestyles Act in 2005. This Act amended the code on the requirements of physical education and physical fitness in schools, creating minimum physical education requirements at each grade level. The goal of this policy evaluation was to identify if, 5 years postimplementation, students have increased physical education in schools.

Methods:

Data from the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System surveys were used to examine the time trend of weekly PE participation in WV Schools.

Results:

There have been no significant changes in participation in physical education classes since before the implementation of the HLA.

Conclusions:

Simple policy changes by themselves may not effectively create change in physical activity environments, as policy is moderated by strength of language, implementation, and enforcement. Further studies are needed to determine why the HLA has not been successful in increasing physical activity of youth and what changes to the standards and mandates, ways implementation in schools could be improved, and/or the enforcement of these standards are needed for such policies to be successful.

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Timothy J. Bungum, Merrill Landers, Maria Azzarelli and Sheniz Moonie

Background:

Little is known about correlates of physical activity of Asian and Asian-Pacific Islander Americans (AAPI). Knowledge of these correlates could be useful in promoting physical activity. Purpose: to identify demographic and environmental correlates of physical activity among AAPI.

Methods:

Participants resided in the Las Vegas, Nevada area, and completed a 52-item telephone administered questionnaire that assessed physical activity behavior, environmental supports for physical activity and demographic factors. Environmental factors included the presence of neighborhood sidewalks, park availability, and nearby grocery stores were combined to create the variable “environmental physical activity supports” (EPAS). Neighborhood crime, pleasantness of the neighborhood for walking, and the presence of loose dogs combined to form “neighborhood safety.” Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of physical activity. Potential predictors included age, gender, BMI, employment, educational attainment, neighborhood safety, and EPAS.

Results:

263 respondents completed the survey. With the exception of living near a grocery store, respondents reported residing in neighborhoods that are generally supportive of physical activity. However, EPAS was the sole significant predictor of physical activity behavior (OR = 1.52, CI = 1.06–2.17). Age and educational attainment unexpectedly failed to predict physical activity.

Conclusions:

Supportive physical activity environments associate with physical activity behavior among AAPI.

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Anne Samuelson, Leslie Lytle, Keryn Pasch, Kian Farbakhsh, Stacey Moe and John Ronald Sirard

Background:

This article describes policies, practices, and facilities that form the physical activity climate in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota metro area middle and high schools and examines how the physical activity climate varies by school characteristics, including public/private, school location and grade level.

Methods:

Surveys examining school physical activity practices, policies and environment were administered to principals and physical education department heads from 115 middle and high schools participating in the Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer-Identifying Determinants of Eating and Activity (TREC-IDEA) study.

Results:

While some supportive practices were highly prevalent in the schools studied (such as prohibiting substitution of other classes for physical education); other practices were less common (such as providing opportunity for intramural (noncompetitive) sports). Public schools vs. private schools and schools with a larger school enrollment were more likely to have a school climate supportive of physical activity.

Conclusions:

Although schools reported elements of positive physical activity climates, discrepancies exist by school characteristics. Of note, public schools were more than twice as likely as private schools to have supportive physical activity environments. Establishing more consistent physical activity expectations and funding at the state and national level is necessary to increase regular school physical activity.