Communities

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The way communities are designed has a great influence on how active we are. When communities are safe, well-maintained and have appealing scenery, children and families are more likely to be active. Unfortunately, many people—especially those at high risk for obesity—live in communities that lack parks and have high crime rates, dangerous traffic patterns and unsafe sidewalks.  Such communities discourage residents from walking, bicycling and playing outside. Increasingly, local governments are considering how community design will impact residents’ physical activity. Our research documents effective strategies for creating communities that support active living and promote health.

View The Role of Communities in Promoting Physical Activity infographic.

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Liability Concerns and Shared Use of School Recreational Facilities in Underserved Communities

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Liability Concerns and Shared Use of School Recreational Facilities in Underserved Communities
Description: 

Spengler, J.O., Connaughton, D.P., & Maddock, J.E. (2011). Liability Concerns and Shared Use of School Recreational Facilities in Underserved Communities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 41(4), 415-420.

Date: 
10/01/2011
Funding Source: 
Funding by the Active Living Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Abstract: 

BACKGROUND: In underserved communities, schools can provide the physical structure and facilities for informal and formal recreation as well as after-school, weekend, and summer programming. The importance of community access to schools is acknowledged by authoritative groups; however, fear of liability is believed to be a key barrier to community access. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate perceptions of liability risk and associated issues among school administrators in underserved communities. METHODS: A national survey of school administrators in underserved communities (n=360, response rate of 21%) was conducted in 2009 and analyzed in 2010. Liability perceptions in the context of community access were assessed through descriptive statistics. RESULTS: The majority of respondents (82.2%) indicated concern for liability should someone be injured on school property after hours while participating in a recreational activity. Among those that did not allow community access, 91% were somewhat to very concerned about liability and 86% believed that stronger legislation was needed to better protect schools from liability for after-hours recreational use. Among those who claimed familiarity with a state law that offered them limited liability protection, nearly three fourths were nevertheless concerned about liability. CONCLUSIONS: Liability concerns are prevalent among this group of school administrators, particularly if they had been involved in prior litigation, and even if they indicated they were aware of laws that provide liability protection where use occurs after hours. Reducing these concerns will be important if schools are to become locations for recreational programs that promote physical activity outside of regular school hours.

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Barriers to Municipal Planning for Pedestrians and Bicyclists in North Carolina

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Barriers to Municipal Planning for Pedestrians and Bicyclists in North Carolina
Description: 

Evenson, K.R., Aytur, S.A., Satinsky, S.B., & Rodriguez, D.A. (2011). Barriers to Municipal Planning for Pedestrians and Bicyclists in North Carolina. North Carolina Medical Journal, 72(2), 89-97.

Date: 
03/01/2011
Funding Source: 
Funded by the Active Living Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Abstract: 

BACKGROUND: The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends implementing community- and street-scale urban design, as well as land use policies and practices, to promote walking and bicycling. To better understand barriers to municipal walking and bicycling projects and policies, we surveyed municipal staff in North Carolina. METHODS: We surveyed all 121 municipalities with at least 5,000 persons, and 62% responded. We also surveyed 216 of 420 municipalities with less than 5,000 persons, and 50% responded. The municipal staff member most knowledgeable about walking and bicycling planning was asked to complete the survey. Responses were weighted to account for the sampling design, to reflect prevalence estimates for all North Carolina municipalities. RESULTS: Common barriers to walking and bicycling projects and policies were selected from a 14-item list. For walking, barriers included lack of funding (93% of responding municipalities), other infrastructure priorities (79%), automobile infrastructure priorities (66%), and staffing challenges (65%). For bicycling, barriers included lack of funding (94% of responding municipalities), other infrastructure priorities (79%), automobile infrastructure priorities (73%), issues were not high priorities for the municipality (68%), staffing challenges (68%), and insufficient support from residents (63%). Barriers generally were more prevalent among rural municipalities than among urban municipalities (9 of 14 barriers for walking and 5 of 14 for bicycling; P < .10). LIMITATIONS: The study relied on 1 respondent to report for a municipality. Additionally, job titles of respondents varied with municipality size. CONCLUSIONS: Health professionals and multidisciplinary partners can assist in overcoming the common local- and state-level barriers to walking and bicycle projects and policies that are reported by North Carolina municipalities.

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Contributing to helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Truly shifting from niche to norm

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Giles-Corti B, Kerr J, & Pratt M. (2017). Contributing to helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Truly shifting from niche to norm. Prev Med. 103(Suppl), S1-S2.

Authors: 
Billie Giles-Corti, Jacqueline Kerr, Michael Pratt
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What makes an active public realm? Opportunities and challenges for research

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Harvey C & Rodriguez DA. (2017). What makes an active public realm? Opportunities and challenges for research. Prev Med. 103(Suppl), S5-S6.

Authors: 
Chester Harvey, Daniel A. Rodriguez
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Perceived neighborhood environmental attributes associated with leisure-time and transport physical activity in Mexican adults

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Jáuregui A, Salvo D, Lamadrid-Figueroa H, et al. (2017). Perceived neighborhood environmental attributes associated with leisure-time and transport physical activity in Mexican adultPrev Med. 103(Suppl), S21-S26.

Abstract: 

Environmental factors have been associated with specific physical activity domains, including leisure-time and transport physical activity, in some high income countries. Few studies have examined the environmental correlates for domain-specific physical activity in low-and middle-income countries, and results are inconsistent. We aimed to estimate the associations between perceived environment and self-reported leisure-time walking, moderate-to-vigorous leisure-time physical activity and transport physical activity among adults living in Cuernavaca, Mexico. A population-based study of adults 20 to 64 years old was conducted in Cuernavaca, Mexico in 2011 (n = 677). Leisure and transport physical activity was measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire – Long Form. Perceptions of neighborhood environment were obtained by questionnaire. Hurdle regression models estimated the association between environmental perceptions and participation and time spent in each physical activity domain. High perceived aesthetics were positively correlated with participation and time spent in leisure-time walking and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. SES differences existed for aesthetics in relation to participation in leisure-time walking. Participation in transport physical activity was positively associated with easy access to large parks, while closer distance to large parks was a negative correlate for participation and time-spent in this physical activity domain. Results suggest that perceived environmental characteristics related with physical activity are domain specific. High perceived aesthetics were an important correlate for leisure-time activities among Mexican adults, suggesting that policy strategies aimed at improving this environmental perception may be warranted. Patterns of associations between environmental correlates and transport physical activity differed from those reported in commonly studied high income countries.

Authors: 
Alejandra Jáuregui, Deborah Salvo, Héctor Lamadrid-Figueroa, Bernardo Hernández, Juan A. Rivera, Michael Pratt
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Where Latin Americans are physically active, and why does it matter? Findings from the IPEN-adult study in Bogota, Colombia; Cuernavaca, Mexico; and Curitiba, Brazil

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Salvo D, Sarmiento OL, Reis RS, et al. (2017). Where Latin Americans are physically active, and why does it matter? Findings from the IPEN-adult study in Bogota, Colombia; Cuernavaca, Mexico; and Curitiba, Brazil. Prev Med. 103(Suppl), S27-S33.

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Latin America (LA) has a unique structural, political, cultural and social environment. This study aimed to identify the places where Latin American adults are physically active; and to determine the association of using public- and restricted-access places with physical activity (PA). We used data from the International PA Environment Network study in Bogota, Colombia (n = 1000, accelerometry = 249); Cuernavaca, Mexico (n = 677, accelerometry = 652); and Curitiba, Brazil (n = 697, accelerometry = 331) (2010 − 2011). Walking and moderate-to-vigorous PA for leisure were measured with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Overall PA and PA within 10-minute bouts were measured with accelerometers. Participants reported use of public- and restricted-access places for PA. Mixed-effects regression models were used to determine the association of using public- and restricted-access places with PA. The streets were the most frequently-reported place for PA, and walking was the most common PA in the studied places. ‘Informal’, non-exercise-or-sports places (e.g., shopping malls) ranked high for use for PA in Bogota and Cuernavaca. In Curitiba, use of ‘formal’ places for sports/exercise (e.g., gyms) was more prevalent. Using public-access places was directly related to walking for leisure in all cities, and to additional PA outcomes in Bogota and Cuernavaca. In Cuernavaca and Curitiba, using restricted-access places was also associated with PA. Our study highlights the importance of public-access places for PA in LA. In some contexts, places for social interaction may be as important for PA as places for exercise/sport. Strategies increasing the availability, accessibility and quality of these places may effectively promote PA in LA.

Authors: 
Deborah Salvo, Olga L. Sarmiento, Rodrigo S. Reis, Adriano A.F. Hino, Manuel A. Bolivar, Pablo D. Lemoine, Priscilla B. Gonçalves, Michael Pratt
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Use of global positioning system for physical activity research in youth: ESPAÇOS Adolescentes, Brazil

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Oliveira Alberico C, Schipperijn J, & Reis RS. (2017). Use of global positioning system for physical activity research in youth: ESPAÇOS Adolescentes, Brazil. Prev Med. 103(Suppl), S59-S65.

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The built environment is an important factor associated with physical activity and sedentary behavior (SB) during adolescence. This study presents the methods for objective assessment of context-specific moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and SB, as well as describes results from the first project using such methodology in adolescents from a developing country. An initial sample of 381 adolescents was recruited from 32 census tracts in Curitiba, Brazil (2013); 80 had their homes geocoded and wore accelerometer and GPS devices for seven days. Four domains were defined as important contexts: home, school, transport and leisure. The majority of participants (n = 80) were boys (46; 57.5%), with a normal BMI (52; 65.0%) and a mean age (SD) of 14.5 (5.5) years. Adolescents spent most of their time at home, engaging in SB. Overall, the largest proportion of MVPA was while in transport (17.1% of time spent in this context) and SB while in leisure (188.6 min per day). Participants engaged in MVPA for a median of 28.7 (IQR 18.2–43.2) and 17.9 (IQR 9.2–32.1) minutes during week and weekend days, respectively. Participants spent most of their day in the leisure and home domains. The use of Geographic Information System (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS) and accelerometer data allowed objective identification of the amount of time spent in MVPA and SB in four different domains. Though the combination of objective measures is still an emerging methodology, this is a promising and feasible approach to understanding interactions between people and their environments in developing countries.

Authors: 
Claudia Oliveira Alberico, Jasper Schipperijn, Rodrigo S Reis
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Are children living on dead-end streets more active? Near-home street patterns and school-going children's time spent outdoors in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Monsur M, Mansur M, & Zakiul Islam M. (2017). Are children living on dead-end streets more active? Near-home street patterns and school-going children's time spent outdoors in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Prev Med. 103(Suppl), S73-S80.

Abstract: 

This study aimed to investigate relationships between near-home street patterns and children's time spent outdoors (TSO). Participants were 60 (n = 60) school-age Dhaka children, 7–11 years old (16 girls and 44 boys) selected by a two-phase cluster sampling method. Data were collected from September 2010 to June 2011 by visiting each of 60 children's homes. Children's mean TSOs (in minutes) were reported by parents' face-to-face interviews, and near-home street pattern data were collected by systematic direct observations. The researchers also collected data on seven socio-demographic variables and three neighborhood built-environment variables. A backward selection based multiple linear regression was used to examine association between children's TSO and near-home street patterns. Results (adjusted R2 = 0.66 for weekdays and 0.68 for weekend) suggested that children's TSO were significantly associated with near-home street type: dead-end instead of through streets (28 min on weekdays, p < 0.01 and 66 min on weekend, p < 0.01). The width of the street, level of its branching and availability of an open space or playground near the house are also positively associated with TSO. Near-home street features significantly contribute to TSO in school-going children of Dhaka.

Authors: 
Muntazar Monsur, Mohaimen Mansur, Mohammed Zakiul Islam
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“Can we walk?” Environmental supports for physical activity in India

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Adlakha D, Hipp JA, Brownson RC, et al. (2017). “Can we walk?” Environmental supports for physical activity in India. Prev Med. 103(Suppl), S81-S89.

Abstract: 

India is currently facing a non-communicable disease epidemic. Physical activity (PA) is a preventative factor for non-communicable diseases. Understanding the role of the built environment (BE) to facilitate or constrain PA is essential for public health interventions to increase population PA. The objective of this study was to understand BEs associations with PA occurring in two major life domains or life areas—travel and leisure—in urban India. Between December 2014 and April 2015, in-person surveys were conducted with participants (N = 370; female = 47.2%) in Chennai, India. Perceived BE characteristics regarding residential density, land use mix-diversity, land use mix-access, street connectivity, infrastructure for walking and bicycling, aesthetics, traffic safety, and safety from crime were measured using the adapted Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale-India (NEWS-India). Self-reported PA was measured the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. High residential density was associated with greater odds of travel PA (aOR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.2, 3.2). Land use mix-diversity was positively related to travel PA (aOR = 2.1, 95%CI = 1.2, 3.6), but not associated with leisure or total PA. The aggregate NEWS-India score predicted a two-fold increase in odds of travel PA (aOR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.1, 3.1) and a 40% decrease in odds of leisure PA (aOR = 0.6, 95% CI = 0.4, 1.0). However, the association of the aggregated score with leisure PA was not significant. Results suggest that relationships between BE and PA in low-and-middle income countries may be context-specific, and may differ markedly from higher income countries. Findings have public health implications for India suggesting that caution should be taken when translating evidence across countries.

Authors: 
Deepti Adlakha, J. Aaron Hipp, Ross C. Brownson, Amy A. Eyler, Carolyn K. Lesorogol, Ramesh Raghavan
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Perceived urban neighborhood environment for physical activity of older adults in Seoul, Korea: A multimethod qualitative study

Date: 
10/01/2017
Description: 

Yoo S & Ha Kim D. (2017). Perceived urban neighborhood environment for physical activity of older adults in Seoul, Korea: A multimethod qualitative study. Prev Med. 103(Suppl), S90-S98.

Abstract: 

This study assessed the attributes of a perceived urban neighborhood environment for the physical activity (PA) of older adults by applying a qualitative multimethod approach to collect both descriptive and spatial information. Conducted in a northern community of Seoul, Korea, from April 2014 to November 2015, data collection methods included 90 walking tours by researchers, 46 face-to-face, semi-structured interviews combined with qualitative mapping with senior residents aged 65 +, 19 guided tours with the interviewees, and 3 focus groups with 12 community service providers. Thematic analysis and pattern finding were performed on the data. Walking was the main type of PA of the older adults. Nine attributes of perceived neighborhood environment for PA were identified under three themes: daily living (everyday life activities, mobility, social opportunities, diverse destinations); the multidimensionality of accessibility (physical, economic, psychosocial), and attractiveness and pleasantness (maintenance, aesthetics). The subcategories of the attributes included proximity, access to public transportation, walkability, cost-worthiness, low or no cost, familiarity, sense of welcoming, sociocultural appropriateness, fair access, order and upkeep, safety, openness, cleanliness, and interestingness. Strategies to generate more movement and activities in the everyday routine of the elderly should be a core task for health promotion and neighborhood design. A strategic application of multiple qualitative methods can create an opportunity to build contextual understanding and to generate ideas in interactions with the community.

Authors: 
Seunghyun Yoo, Dong Ha Kim
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