Introduction to the Active Living Research Reference List 2007



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K. P. Arbour and K. A. M. Ginis. (2007). Does the environment matter? Exploring the role of the physical environment in predicting leisure-time wheeling among people with spinal cord injury. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology.
M. Ashe, L. M. Feldstein, S. Graff, R. Kline, D. Pinkas and L. Zellers. (2007). Local venues for change: legal strategies for healthy environments. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.

Mounting evidence documents the extraordinary toll on human health resulting from the consumption of unhealthy food products and physical inactivity. In response to America's growing obesity problem, local policymakers have been looking for legal strategies that can be adopted in their communities to encourage healthful behaviors. In order to provide practical tools to policymakers, this article examines four possible venues for local policy change to improve the health of a community: (1) the school environment (2) the built environment (3) community facilities and (4) the point of sale environment. Finally, the article examines the use of taxes or fees as a means of paying for nutrition policy work as well as potentially reducing the consumption of unhealthy products. This article illustrates that local laws and policies can be a valuable tool in changing a community's environment in order to improve nutritional options and increase opportunities for physical activity.

S. A. Aytur, D. A. Rodriguez, K. R. Evenson, D. J. Catellier and W. D. Rosamond. (2007). Promoting active community environments through land use and transportation planning. American Journal Of Health Promotion.

Purpose. To examine the role of land use and transportation plans as policy instruments for promoting active community environments. Design. Cross-sectional analysis using multilevel models to examine whether active community environment scores were associated with leisure and transportation-related physical activity (PA) and whether associations varied by household income. Setting. 67 North Carolina counties. Subjects. Adults (n = 6694) from pooled 2000 and 2002 North Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys. Measures. Active community environment scores, derived from a 2003 survey of planning directors, representing the presence of nonmotorized transportation improvements, mixed land use classification, and comprehensiveness of implementation tools. Dependent variables were self-reported PA measures from the BRFSS. Sociodemographic variables were derived from the 2000 U.S. Census of population. Results. After adjustment for sociodemographic factors, more favorable active community environment scores were significantly associated with leisure PA (p, =.001), transportation PA (p, <. 01), bicycling (p <.05), walking 150 minutes/week (p <. 001), and meeting PA recommendations (p <. 0001). In stratified analyses, lower income individuals (<$25, 000) living in high scoring counties were three times more likely to participate in transportation PA compared with those living in 1070 scoring counties (95% confidence interval, 1. 4, 7.3). Conclusions. This study identifies previously unexamined polity and institutional correlates of PA related to land use and transpartation planning. Plans may provide a means to incorporate Community support far active living into public policy.

S. A. Aytur, D. A. Rodriguez, K. R. Evenson, D. J. Catellier and W. D. Rosamond. (2007). The sociodemographics of land use planning: Relationships to physical activity, accessibility, and equity. Health & Place.

Little is known about relationships between attributes of land use plans and sociodemographic variations in physical activity (PA). This study evaluates associations between policy-relevant plan attributes, sociodemographic factors, and PA in North Carolina. Results suggest that land use plans that included non-automobile transportation improvements and more comprehensive policies to guide development were positively associated with both leisure and transportation-related PA. However, residents of counties with lower-income levels and higher proportions of non-white residents were less likely to have attributes supportive of PA included in their plans. Implications for transdisciplinary collaboration with respect to reducing health disparities are discussed.


S. H. Babey, T. A. Hastert and E. R. Brown. (2007). Teens living in disadvantaged neighborhoods lack access to parks and get less physical activity. Policy Brief UCLA Cent Health Policy Res.

H. M. Badland, G. M. Schofield and P. J. Schluter. (2007). Objectively measured commute distance: associations with actual travel modes and perceptions to place of work or study in Auckland, New Zealand. Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the relationships between objectively measured commute distance with actual and perceived transport-related physical activity (TPA) engagement. METHODS: A telephone survey assessed travel behaviors to place of work/study within an adult sample (n = 772) residing in New Zealand. RESULT: Overall, 50% of respondents perceived they could, and 10% of the sample actually did, use TPA modes to commute to their occupation for distances less than 5 km. Differences between TPA perceptions and engagement existed for all distance classifications, and prevalence declined as distances increased. CONCLUSIONS: Differences between TPA engagement and perceptions were evident. Actual and perceived TPA engagement levels declined as commute distance increased.

H. M. Badland, G. M. Schofield and N. Garrett. (2008). Travel behavior and objectively measured urban design variables: associations for adults traveling to work. Health & Place.

Mixed land use, residential density, street connectivity, and commute distance have been identified as potential variables affecting transport-related physical activity (TPA) behaviors. In this study, objectively measured urban design variables and TPA behaviors for adults who commuted to an occupation (n=364) were examined. Utilitarian walking and cycling for other purposes were not investigated. Commute distance was negatively associated with TPA behaviors. Logistic regression analysis identified respondents who commuted through the most connected streets were more likely to engage in TPA modes to access their occupation (OR=6.9) when compared to those traveling along the least connected. No other associations between TPA behaviors and urban variables were shown. Improved street connectivity and reduced commute distances will likely support TPA.

K. Ball, A. Timperio, J. Salmon, B. Giles-Corti, R. Roberts and D. Crawford. (2007). Personal, social and environmental determinants of educational inequalities in walking: a multilevel study. Journal of Epidemiological Community Health.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the contribution of personal, social and environmental factors to mediating socioeconomic (educational) inequalities in women's leisure-time walking and walking for transport. METHODS: A community sample of 1282 women provided survey data on walking for leisure and transport; educational level; enjoyment of, and self-efficacy for, walking; physical activity barriers and intentions; social support for physical activity; sporting/recreational club membership; dog ownership; and perceived environmental aesthetics and safety. TheSEata were linked with objective environmental data on the density of public open space and walking tracks in the women's local neighbourhood, coastal proximity and street connectivity. RESULTS: Multilevel modelling showed that different personal, social and environmental factors were associated with walking for leisure and walking for transport. Variables from all three domains explained (mediated) educational inequalities in leisure-time walking, including neighbourhood walking tracks; coastal proximity; friends' social support; dog ownership; self-efficacy, enjoyment and intentions. On the other hand, few of the variables examined explained educational variations in walking for transport, exceptions being neighbourhood, coastal proximity, street connectivity and social support from family. CONCLUSIONS: Public health initiatives aimed at promoting, and reducing educational inequalities in, leisure-time walking should incorporate a focus on environmental strategies, such as advocating for neighbourhood walking tracks, as well as personal and social factors. Further investigation is required to better understand the pathways by which education might influence walking for transport.


K. Ball, A. Timperio, J. Salmon, B. Giles-Corti, R. Roberts and D. Crawfords. (2007). Personal, social and environmental determinants of educational inequalities in walking: a multilevel study. Journal Of Epidemiology And Community Health.

Objective: To investigate the contribution of personal, social and environmental factors to mediating socioeconomic (educational) inequalities in women's leisure-time walking and walking for transport. Methods: A community sample of 1282 women provided survey data on walking for leisure and transport; educational level; enjoyment of, and self-efficacy for, walking; physical activity barriers and intentions; social support for physical activity; sporting/recreational club membership; dog ownership; and perceived environmental aesthetics and safety. TheSEata were linked with objective environmental data on the density of public open space and walking tracks in the women's local neighbourhood, coastal proximity and street connectivity. Results: Multilevel modelling showed that different personal, social and environmental factors were associated with walking for leisure and walking for transport. Variables from all three domains explained (mediated) educational inequalities in leisure-time walking, including neighbourhood walking tracks; coastal proximity; friends' social support; dog ownership; self-efficacy, enjoyment and intentions. On the other hand, few of the variables examined explained educational variations in walking for transport, exceptions being neighbourhood, coastal proximity, street connectivity and social support from family. Conclusions: Public health initiatives aimed at promoting, and reducing educational inequalities in, leisure-time walking should incorporate a focus on environmental strategies, such as advocating for neighbourhood walking tracks, as well as personal and social factors. Further investigation is required to better understand the pathways by which education might influence walking for transport.


E. Bathrellou, C. Lazarou, D. B. Panagiotakos and L. S. Sidossis. (2007). Physical activity patterns and sedentary behaviors of children from urban and rural areas of Cyprus. Cent Eur J Public Health.

BACKGROUND: A sedentary lifestyle among children is becoming increasingly common and has been linked to future risk of degenerative diseases. Urban residence has been suggested to be a contributing factor to a less active lifestyle; however, not all available studies support this link. In the present study we examined the physical activity patterns and sedentary behaviours of children living in urban and rural areas of Cyprus, where major demographic shifts have occurred the last decades. METHODS: We studied 1140 children (531 boys; 609 girls), aged 10-12 years, registered in 24 selected elementary public schools from five urban and rural districts of Cyprus. Children completed a semi-quantitative physical activity questionnaire regarding frequency and duration of everyday physical and sedentary activities. Weight and height of the children, as well as demographic and socioeconomic information was collected from children and their guardians. RESULTS: Rural children reported being slightly more active after school and occupied weekly with outdoors chores compared to urban children, who on the other hand reported engaging in sports on a weekly basis more than their rural peers (all p < 0.10). However, the average weekly time spent by urban and rural children on vigorous (8.6 +/- 4.7 and 9.1 +/- 4.8 h/w, respectively; p = 0.193) or moderate-to-vigorous (14.9 +/- 7.6 and 15.2 +/- 7.6 h/w, respectively; p = 0.612) activities, as well as total screen time, were not different. The distribution of children with regards to most other physical activity and inactivity pursuits was similar between urban and rural areas. CONCLUSION: We found no substantial differences in the physical activity habits and sedentary behaviours among children living in urban and rural areas of Cyprus. Hence public health awareness directed to enhance physical activity and decrease sedentary lifestyle among youngsters should focus equally to urban and rural children.


A. Bauman, N. Owen and W. Brown. (2007). Of mass campaigns, Red Chairs and sedentary policy processes. Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Public Health.
G. G. Bennett, L. H. McNeill, K. Y. Wolin, D. T. Duncan, E. Puleo and K. M. Emmons. (2007). Safe to walk? Neighborhood safety and physical activity among public housing residents. Plos Medicine.

Background Despite its health benefits, physical inactivity is pervasive, particularly among those living in lower-income urban communities. In such settings, neighborhood safety may impact willingness to be regularly physically active. We examined the association of perceived neighborhood safety with pedometer-determined physical activity and physical activity self-efficacy. Methods and Findings Participants were 1,180 predominantly racial/ethnic minority adults recruited from 12 urban low-income housing complexes in metropolitan Boston. Participants completed a 5-d pedometer data-collection protocol and self-reported their perceptions of neighborhood safety and self-efficacy (i.e., confidence in the ability to be physically active). Gender-stratified bivariate and multivariable random effects models were estimated to account for within-site clustering. Most participants reported feeling safe during the day, while just over one-third (36%) felt safe at night. We found no association between daytime safety reports and physical activity among both men and women. There was also no association between night-time safety reports and physical activity among men (p = 0.23) but women who reported feeling unsafe (versus safe) at night showed significantly fewer steps per day (4,302 versus 5,178, p = 0.01). Perceiving one's neighborhood as unsafe during the day was associated with significantly lower odds of having high physical activity self- efficacy among both men (OR 0.40, p = 0.01) and women (OR 0.68, p = 0.02). Conclusions Residing in a neighborhood that is perceived to be unsafe at night is a barrier to regular physical activity among individuals, especially women, living in urban low-income housing. Feeling unsafe may also diminish confidence in the ability to be more physically active. Both of these factors may limit the effectiveness of physical activity promotion strategies delivered in similar settings.

E. M. Berke, T. D. Koepsell, A. V. Moudon, R. E. Hoskins and E. B. Larson. (2007). Association of the built environment with physical activity and obesity in older persons. American Journal of Public Health.

OBJECTIVE: We examined whether older persons who live in areas that are conducive to walking are more active or less obese than those living in areas where walking is more difficult. METHODS: We used data from the Adult Changes in Thought cohort study for a cross-sectional analysis of 936 participants aged 65 to 97 years. The Walkable and Bikable Communities Project previously formulated a walkability score to predict the probability of walking in King County, Washington. Data from the cohort study were linked to the walkability score at the participant level using a geographic information system. Analyses tested for associations between walkability score and activity and body mass index. RESULTS: Higher walkability scores were associated with significantly more walking for exercise across buffers (circular zones around each respondent's home) of varying radii (for men, odds ratio [OR]=5.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.01, 34.17 to OR=9.14; CI=1.23, 68.11; for women, OR=1.63; CI=0.94, 2.83 to OR=1.77; CI=1.03, 3.04). A trend toward lower body mass index in men living in more walkable neighborhoods did not reach statistical significance. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that neighborhood characteristics are associated with the frequency of walking for physical activity in older people. Whether frequency of walking reduces obesity prevalence is less clear.

R. Boer, Y. Zheng, A. Overton, G. K. Ridgeway and D. A. Cohen. (2007). Neighborhood design and walking trips in ten U.S. metropolitan areas. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

BACKGROUND: Despite substantial evidence for neighborhood characteristics correlating with walking, so far there has been limited attention to possible practical implications for neighborhood design. This study investigates to what extent design guidelines are likely to stimulate walking. METHODS: Four of the New Urbanism Smart Scorecard criteria and two other measures were tested for their influence on walking. Data were obtained from the 1995 National Personal Transportation Survey, U.S. Census 2000, and InfoUSA. Propensity-score methodology was used to control for potential confounders. RESULTS: Higher levels of business diversity and higher percentages of four-way intersections were associated with more walking. For example, the odds ratio (OR) for walking in a neighborhood with four business types present compared to three business types was 1.24 (confidence interval [CI] 1.07-1.44) and neighborhoods with 50%-74% four-way intersections had an OR for walking of 1.4 (CI 1.09-1.78) relative to those with 25%-49% four-way intersections. The effects of housing density on walking are mixed. Higher parking pressure and older median housing age did not significantly affect walking after covariate adjustment. Block length did not appear to be associated with walking. CONCLUSIONS: When considering the New Urbanism Smart Scorecard from the perspective walking, some, but not all, of its criteria that appear to have a correlation with walking are likely to be useful for designing walkable communities.

M. L. Booth, A. D. Okely, E. Denney-Wilson, L. L. Hardy, T. Dobbins, L. M. Wen and C. Rissel. (2007). Characteristics of travel to and from school among adolescents in NSW, Australia. Journal Of Paediatrics And Child Health.

Aim: Active transport to and from school is frequently identified as an opportunity to increase energy expenditure among young people. The epidemiology of travel behaviours among Grade 6, 8 and 10 students in NSW is reported. Methods: A representative population survey of students in NSW, Australia was conducted during February to May 2004 (n = 2750) and the prevalence of travelling to and from school by walking, car and public transport was determined for Grade 6, 8 and 10 students. Results: Among Grade 6 students, approximately 30% travelled by car, 30% walked and 20% used public transport to travel to school (the travel habits of 20% could not be accurately characterised). Among secondary school students, approximately 50% used public transport, 15-20% travelled by car and 15-20% walked. Among those who walked or used public transport, the median times spent walking were 10-15 min and 5 min per trip, respectively. Conclusions: While there is little scope to increase the prevalence of active transport among secondary school students, there is potential to do so among primary school students. Primary school students who replace travelling to and from school by car with walking will experience an increase in activity energy expenditure of up to 10% and those who change to public transport will experience an increase in activity energy expenditure of up to 3%.

B. B. Brown and C. M. Werner. (2007). A new rail stop: tracking moderate physical activity bouts and ridership. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine.

BACKGROUND: The natural intervention of a new light-rail stop in a neighborhood is examined for relationships with ridership and moderate-activity bouts. DESIGN: At Time 1, surveys and 1-week accelerometer readings assess transit use and moderate- activity bouts. One year later (Time 2), after the opening of a new light-rail stop, measures were repeated. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: During the summers of 2005 and 2006, 51 residents participated from a low-income, mixed ethnicity neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah. INTERVENTION: A new light-rail stop was built and opened in the middle of the surveyed neighborhood. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Physical activity was measured as a bout of 8 or more minutes of moderate activity (3.0 metabolic units [METS]), according to accelerometer counts, controlling for hours worn. Prompted recalls allowed moderate-activity bouts to be labeled as walks to transit or not. RESULTS: Analyses in 2006-2007 show that the percentage of rail riders increased significantly, from 50% to 68.75%, after the stop opened. In cross-sectional analyses at Times 1 and 2, self-reported rides on light rail were significantly related to more moderate-activity bouts, controlling for gender, household size, and home ownership. Longitudinally, with the same control variables and adding Time 1 moderate activity, light-rail rides at Time 2 predicted increased Time 2 moderate activity. CONCLUSIONS: A new rail stop was associated with increased ridership. Walks to light rail were associated, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, with moderate-activity bouts.

B. B. Brown and N. M. Wells. (2007). Physical environments, physical activity, and diet - Environment-behavior perspectives. Environment And Behavior.
B. B. Brown, C. M. Werner, J. W. Amburgey and C. Szalay. (2007). Walkable route perceptions and physical features - Converging evidence for en route walking experiences. Environment And Behavior.

Guided walks near a light rail stop in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, were examined using a 2 (gender) x 3 (route walkability: low- mixed-, or high-walkability features) design. Trained raters confirmed that more walkable segments had more traffic, environmental, and social safety; pleasing aesthetics; natural features; pedestrian amenities; and land uSEiversity (using the Irvine-Minnesota physical environment audit) and a superior social milieu rating. According to tape-recorded open-ended descriptions, University student participants experienced walkable route segments as noticeably safer, with a more positive social environment, fewer social and physical incivilities, and more attractive natural and built environment features. According to closed-ended scales, walkable route segments had more pleasant social and/or environmental atmosphere and better traffic safety. Few gender differences were found. Results highlight the importance of understanding subjective experiences of walkability and suggest that these experiences should be an additional focus of urban design.

R. C. Brownson, P. Ballew, B. Dieffenderfer, D. Haire-Joshu, G. W. Heath, M. W. Kreuter and B. A. Myers. (2007). Evidence-based interventions to promote physical activity: what contributes to dissemination by state health departments. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine.

BACKGROUND: Evidence-based guidelines for promoting physical activity have been produced, yet sparse information exists on the dissemination of effective interventions. The purpose of this study was to better understand the dissemination of physical activity interventions across the United States, focusing particularly on evidence-based guidelines. DESIGN: A cross-sectional study was conducted in the U.S. that was organized around a modified version of the diffusion of innovations theory. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Respondents (n=49) were the physical activity contact person (e.g., program administrator, health educator) in each state or territorial health department. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Seven specific programs and policies relating to physical activity intervention were examined as dependent variables. Five additional domains--organizational climate, awareness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance--framed a set of independent variables. RESULTS: The most important factor related to decision making was the availability of adequate resources. Most respondents (89.8%) were aware of evidence-based guidelines to promote physical activity. However, less than half of the respondents (41%) had the authority to implement evidence-based programs and policies. A minority of respondents reported having support from their state governor (35.4%) or from most of their state legislators (21.3%). Several key factors were associated with the adoption of evidence-based interventions, including the presence of state funding for physical activity, whether the respondent participated in moderate physical activity, presence of adequate staffing, and presence of a supportive state legislature. CONCLUSIONS: Awareness of the importance of promoting physical activity is relatively high in state and territorial health departments; however, the levels of internal support within the health department appear to outweigh any outside support from elected officials.




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