Neighborhood and PA: Neighborhood Factors and Physical Activity in African American Public Housing Residents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health


In the US, public housing developments are typically located in lower socioeconomic status neighborhoods that may have poorer quality street level conditions, placing residents in neighborhoods that are less supportive for physical activity (PA). This study investigated the relationship of detailed, objectively assessed street-level pedestrian features with self-reported and measured PA in African American public housing residents.


Every street segment (N = 2093) within an 800 m radius surrounding each housing development (N = 12) was systematically assessed using the Pedestrian Environment Data Scan (PEDS). Participants completed an interviewer administered International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) Short Form and wore a pedometer for 1 week.


Women reported significantly less vigorous (mean = 1955 vs. 2896 METs), moderate (mean = 733 vs. 1309 mets), walking (mean = 1080 vs. 1376 METs), and total (mean = 3768 vs. 5581 METs) PA on the IPAQ compared with men (all P <.05). Women took fewer pedometer steps per day (M = 3753 vs. 4589) compared with men, but this was not statistically significant. Regression analyses showed that for women, lower speed limits were associated with vigorous; higher street segment density was associated with more moderate PA; lower speed limits, fewer crossing aids, and more lanes were associated with more walking; and, fewer lanes was associated with more overall PA. For men, fewer sidewalk connections were associated with more moderate PA; lower speed limits were associated with more walking; and, lower speed limits was associated with more overall PA.


Neighborhood factors influence physical activity; in particular, lower speed limits appear most commonly linked with increased physical activity in both men and women.

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The authors are with the Texas Obesity Research Center, Dept of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, TX.