Research regarding the pathways via which the environment influences physical activity is limited. This study examined the role of perceived behavioral control (PBC) in mediating the relationship between perceptions of neighborhood walkability and frequency of moderate (MODPA) and vigorous physical activity (VIGPA).
Data were collected through a province-wide survey of physical activity. Telephone-interviews were conducted with 1207 adults and captured information about perceptions of neighborhood walkability, physical activity, PBC and demographics. Gender-stratified regression analyses were conducted to test PBC mediation of the built environment-physical activity association.
Among women easy access to places for physical activity was positively associated with MODPA and VIGPA. Having many shops and places within walking distance of homes was also positively associated with MODPA among women however; reporting sidewalks on most neighborhood streets, and crime rate in the neighborhood were negatively correlated with MODPA. Among men, easy access to places for physical activity was positively associated and crime rate in the neighborhood negatively associated, with VIGPA. After adjusting for PBC, the association between easy access to places for physical activity and VIGPA and MODPA attenuated for men and women suggesting mediation of this association by PBC.
PBC mediated the relationship between easy access to places for physical activity and physical activity, but not for other perceived environmental attributes.
McCormack is with the Dept of Community Health Sciences, Population Health Intervention Research Centre, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Spence and Berry are with the Dept of Physical Education & Recreation, University of Alberta, Canada. Doyle-Baker is with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.