Introduction to the Active Living Research Reference List 2007



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P. Budgen, S. Furber, E. Gray and A. Zask. (2007). Creating active playgrounds in primary schools. Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

ISSUE ADDRESSED: To identify a model for a process that will support schools to implement environmental modifications in playgrounds aimed at increasing physical activity. METHODS: Kidsafe NSW (Playground Advisory Unit) was commissioned by the former Illawarra Health Promotion Unit (IHPU) to develop playground concept designs, safety audits and detailed reports for three primary schools. Each report contained several environmental recommendations to increase participation in physical activity. During this study one school was destroyed by fire. The former IHPU supported the remaining two schools to implement environmental modifications for increasing physical activity through a process of meetings and interviews. RESULTS: Principals of both schools said they found the process to be valuable and it encouraged them to implement changes to their school environment for the purpose of increasing physical activity. School staff and the Parents and Friends Association felt that having a report from Kidsafe NSW increased the credibility and importance of the recommendations. Both schools made several changes to their playgrounds that were recommended in the report. CONCLUSIONS: The process of providing a Kidsafe NSW playground report, as well as support through meetings and interviews, appears to promote environmental change in schools.

L. Burgoyne, R. Coleman and I. J. Perry. (2007). Walking in a city neighbourhood, paving the way. Journal Of Public Health.

Background There is an increasing interest in the use of walking routes to promote physical activity. We explored the stated attitudes of selected residents from two adjacent low-income city neighbourhoods towards walking. This was in response to negative results obtained in a quantitative study assessing the impact of the Sli-na-Slainte (path to health), a signed heart health walking route. Method This was a qualitative focus group study. Results The impact of the walking route was marginal. Four major themes influencing local walking emerged, centring on the social and physical environment. Conclusion Findings suggest that the neighbourhoods are unreceptive to health promotion initiatives such as the Sli-na-Slainte since residents are dealing with fundamental social and physical environmental issues. Initiatives such as the Sli-na-Slainte need to be embedded in a supportive and facilitative environment if they are to achieve substantial impact. Keywords walking, physical activity, neighbourhood, environment, Sli-na-Slainte

N. W. Burton, B. Oldenburg, J. F. Sallis and G. Turrell. (2007). Measuring psychological, social, and environmental influences on leisure-time physical activity among adults. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Many of the self-administered scales for measuring physical activity (PA) influences were originally developed for vigorous-intensity exercise, focus on only one domain of influence, and have not been evaluated for both reliability and validity using population-based samples. OBJECTIVE: This study describes the factorial validity and internal reliability of scales for measuring individual-level psychological, social, and environmental influences on leisure-time PA among adults in the general population. METHOD: Constructs were identified from a literature review and formative research with a socio-economically diverse sample. Items were generated using previously developed scales and interview data. New items were pre-tested using reliability and principal components analyses, with data collected from a mail survey sent to a randomly selected population-based sample. Qualitative feedback was obtained from a convenience sample and expert panel. A second mail survey provided data for principal components and reliability analyses. RESULTS: Twenty-eight scales were factorially derived and 24 had acceptable or marginally acceptable levels of internal consistency with Cronbach's alpha values ranging from 0.65 to 0.91. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The 24 scales are suitable for researchers and practitioners interested in measuring individual-level influences on PA that are consistent with Social Cognitive Theory. More research is required to assess predictive validity, sensitivity to change and test/re-test reliability.

G. P. Butler, H. M. Orpana and A. J. Wiens. (2007). By your own two feet: factors associated with active transportation in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to examine socio-demographic, geographic and physical activity correlates of walking and cycling for non-leisure purposes, i.e., to work, school, or errands, in Canada. METHODS: Cross-sectional data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2003 (n = 127,610) were analyzed using logistic regression to identify factors associated with active transportation. The dependent variables were walking 6+ hours per week and any cycling per week. Independent variables were based on age; marital, education, working and immigrant status; income; geographic location; smoking; and other physical activity. RESULTS: Age and income were associated with both walking and cycling, as was geographic location and other physical activity. The results demonstrated that, while similar, walking and cycling are associated with different factors, and that socio-demographic, geographic and health behaviour variables must be taken into consideration when modelling these transportation modes. CONCLUSIONS: Although walking and cycling are relatively easy means to incorporate physical activity in daily life, these results suggest that it is the young and the physically active who engage in them. This research points to a need to address barriers among those who could benefit the most from increased use of both modes of travel.


C. Cameron, C. L. Craig, F. C. Bull and A. Bauman. (2007). Canada's physical activity guides: has their release had an impact? Canadian Journal of Public Health.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the reach of different versions of Canada's physical activity guide (CPAG) and their impacts, including immediate effects (awareness, knowledge, beliefs, future intention to be active, first steps towards behavioural change) and population levels of physical activity. The analysis is based on eligible adults aged 18 years and older (n = 8,892) included in the 2003 Physical Activity Monitor (PAM) survey. The 2003 PAM was a cross-sectional, telephone interview of a representative population sample. Secular trends of Canadians aged 12 years and older were examined, using representative samples from the National Population Health and Canadian Community Health Surveys. Unprompted recall of any guidelines for physical activity was very low (4%), whereas prompted recall of the CPAG was higher (37%). Unprompted and prompted recall were higher among women and high-income earners, and increased with level of education. Behaviours associated with "seeking information" and "initiating action" were associated with unprompted and prompted recall. Beliefs about the benefits of physical activity and intention to be active were also associated with prompted recall. Unprompted CPAG recall, knowledge about the amount of activity required to meet the CPAG, intention to be active, "seeking information", and "initiating action" were associated with being "sufficiently active". The CPAG is an appropriate set of public health guidelines or recommendations around physical activity. The low unprompted recall rate points to the need for a coordinated, well-funded approach to communication of these guidelines, involving governmental and non-governmental partners and intermediaries in municipalities, schools, workplaces, and the recreational, public health, and health-care systems.

X. Cao, P. L. Mokhtarian and S. L. Handy. (2007). Do changes in neighborhood characteristics lead to changes in travel behavior? A structural equations modeling approach. Transportation.

Suburban sprawl has been widely criticized for its contribution to auto dependence. Numerous studies have found that residents in suburban neighborhoods drive more and walk less than their counterparts in traditional environments. However, most studies confirm only an association between the built environment and travel behavior, and have yet to establish the predominant underlying causal link: whether neighborhood design independently influences travel behavior or whether preferences for travel options affect residential choice. That is, residential self-selection may be at work. A few studies have recently addressed the influence of self-selection. However, our understanding of the causality issue is still immature. To address this issue, this study took into account individuals' self-selection by employing a quasi-longitudinal design and by controlling for residential preferences and travel attitudes. In particular, using data collected from 547 movers currently living in four traditional neighborhoods and four suburban neighborhoods in Northern California, we developed a structural equations model to investigate the relationships among changes in the built environment, changes in auto ownership, and changes in travel behavior. The results provide some encouragement that land-use policies designed to put residents closer to destinations and provide them with alternative transportation options will actually lead to less driving and more walking.


M. Carrington, K. Tibazarwa, K. Sliwa and S. Stewart. (2007). Prevalence of obesity and hypertension in urban and rural communities: A south-to-south hemisphere comparison. Samj South African Medical Journal.

A. Carver, A. Timperio and D. Crawford. (2008). Playing it safe: The influence of neighbourhood safety on children's physical activity-A review. Health & Place.

Compared with previous generations, children spend less time playing outdoors and have lower participation rates in active transport. Many studies have identified lack of neighbourhood safety as a potential barrier to children's physical activity. This review describes concerns regarding 'stranger danger' and road safety, and discusses empirical studies that examine associations between neighbourhood safety and physical activity among youth. Variability of perceptions of safety between parents and youth are examined; 'social traps' are identified; and physical/social environmental interventions aimed at improving neighbourhood safety are discussed. A research agenda is suggested for further study of perceived and objective measures of neighbourhood safety and their associations with children's physical activity.

J. Cawley, C. Meyerhoefer and D. Newhouse. (2007). The correlation of youth physical activity with state policies. Contemporary Economic Policy.

Childhood overweight has risen dramatically in the United States during the past three decades. The search for policy solutions is limited by a lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of state policies for increasing physical activity among youths. This paper estimates the correlation of student physical activity with a variety of state policies. We study nationwide data on high school students from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System for 1999, 2001, and 2003 merged with data on state policies from several sources. We control for a variety of characteristics of states and students to mitigate bias due to the endogenous selection of policies, but we conservatively interpret our results as correlations, not causal impacts. Two policies are positively correlated with participation in physical education (PE) class for both boys and girls: a binding PE unit requirement and a state PE curriculum. We also find that state spending on parks and recreation is positively correlated with two measures of girls' overall physical activity.

E. Cerin, E. Leslie, L. du Toit, N. Owen and L. D. Frank. (2007). Destinations that matter: associations with walking for transport. Health & Place.

Associations between access to destinations and walking for transport were examined. Households (N=2650) were selected from 32 urban communities varying in walkability and socio-economic status. Respondents reported perceived proximity of destinations, transport-related walking, reasons for neighbourhood selection, and socio-demographic characteristics. Geographic Information Systems data defined objective measures of access to destinations. Measures of access to destinations were associated with transport-related walking. Associations depended on socio-demographic factors and type of destinations. Workplace proximity was the most significant contributor to transport-related walking, especially among women. Regular walking to work resulted in the accrual of sufficient physical activity for health benefits.


C. Chen and C. E. McKnight. (2007). Does the built environment make a difference? Additional evidence from the daily activity and travel behavior of homemakers living in New York City and suburbs. Journal Of Transport Geography.

Homemakers, unlike employed people who have jobs and unemployed people who are seeking jobs, are a special group who do not have to spend time working out of the home, commuting to work, or looking for a job. Given that a regular job typically takes 9h (This includes an assumed half-hour one-way commute time.) a day, the discretion to allocate their time is presumably much greater than other groups. In this paper, we focus our attention on homemakers' activity and travel behavior in neighborhoods with different characteristics (e.g., very dense areas, dense areas, and suburbs). The question to be answered is quite simple: are there differences between travel behaviors of homemakers living in different types of neighborhoods? If yes, can theSEifferences be attributed to differences in the built environment? The dataset used in the study is the Household Interview Survey (HIS) collected in 1997/1998 in the New York metropolitan area. We found significant differences in activity and travel related behavior by homemakers living in different types of neighborhoods. Compared to suburban homemakers, New York City homemakers spend more time on discretionary activities and less time on maintenance activities; use public transportation and walk more frequently; and conduct fewer trip chains. The study found that both individuals' socioeconomic characteristics and built environment appear to play a role in explaining behavior. A probably more important factor in explaining people's time use behavior is the interrelationship between activities and trips, and between different types of activities. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

L. J. Chen, A. M. Haase and K. R. Fox. (2007). Physical activity among adolescents in Taiwan. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

PURPOSE: Most of the studies investigating prevalence and correlates of physical activity have been conducted in Western countries. To date, there are no internationally published data with nationally representative samples on physical activity prevalence among Taiwanese adolescents and little is known about the relevant factors associated with activity and inactivity. The objectives of this study were to assess the prevalence of physical activity in Taiwanese adolescents and to identify associated socio-demographic and behavioral variables. METHODS: Data were extracted from the 2001 National Health Interview Survey in Taiwan. The sample was 2235 adolescents (1157 boys and 1078 girls) aged 12-18 years. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine associations of demographic and behavioral variables with physical activity. RESULTS: Although 80% of adolescents reported engaging in some physical activity, only 28.4% of the sample met recommended guidelines. Boys and urban adolescents were more active than girls and rural adolescents; and the prevalence of physical activity declined with age. Mean sedentary time was 9.5 hours each day. Though the proportions of non-students, regular smokers or drinkers were small, around half of them were physically inactive. CONCLUSIONS: The percentage of Taiwanese adolescents meeting recommended amounts of physical activity for health is low, particularly, girls in the 15-18-age range being the least active. Associated factors with physical activity include both demographic and health behavior variables (e.g. age, gender, smoking). TheSEata provide a baseline for future comparisons and preliminary identification of groups at higher risk of low physical activity in Taiwan.

G. K. Chin, K. P. Van Niel, B. Giles-Corti and M. Knuiman. (2008). Accessibility and connectivity in physical activity studies: The impact of missing pedestrian data. Preventive Medicine.

OBJECTIVE.: One important characteristic in physical activity research into the built environment is network connectivity, usually calculated using street networks. However, a true pedestrian network may have very different connectivity than a street network. This study, conducted in 2004, examines the difference in walkability analyses when street networks versus pedestrian networks are used for four metropolitan suburbs in Perth, Western Australia. METHODS.: A street network of Perth was used to represent the current standard of data for walkability analyses. Aerial photography from 2003 was used to create a pedestrian network, which incorporated pedestrian footpaths into the street network. The street and pedestrian networks were compared using three measures of connectivity: Pedsheds, link node ratio and pedestrian route directness. RESULTS.: A comparison of the results using street versus pedestrian networks showed very different outcomes for conventional neighbourhood designs. Connectivity measures for conventional neighbourhoods improved up to 120% with the addition of pedestrian networks, although traditional neighbourhoods still had slightly better connectivity values overall. CONCLUSION.: The true pedestrian network increases the connectivity of a neighbourhood and may have significant impact on these measures, especially in neighbourhoods with conventional street designs. It is critical that future studies incorporate pedestrian networks into their analyses.

P. Clinch. (2007). Walking and cycling transport safety. Journal Of The Royal Society Of Medicine.
D. A. Cohen, T. L. McKenzie, A. Sehgal, S. Williamson, D. Golinelli and N. Lurie. (2007). Contribution of public parks to physical activity. American Journal of Public Health.

OBJECTIVES: Parks provide places for people to experience nature, engage in physical activity, and relax. We studied how residents in low-income, minority communities use public, urban neighborhood parks and how parks contribute to physical activity. METHODS: In 8 public parks, we used direct observation to document the number, gender, race/ethnicity, age group, and activity level of park users 4 times per day, 7 days per week. We also interviewed 713 park users and 605 area residents living within 2 miles of each park. RESULTS: On average, over 2000 individuals were counted in each park, and about two thirds were sedentary when observed. More males than females used the parks, and males were twice as likely to be vigorously active. Interviewees identified the park as the most common place they exercised. Both park use and exercise levels of individuals were predicted by proximity of their residence to the park. CONCLUSIONS: Public parks are critical resources for physical activity in minority communities. Because residential proximity is strongly associated with physical activity and park use, the number and location of parks are currently insufficient to serve local populations well.

N. Colabianchi, M. Dowda, K. A. Pfeiffer, D. E. Porter, M. J. Almeida and R. R. Pate. (2007). Towards an understanding of salient neighborhood boundaries: adolescent reports of an easy walking distance and convenient driving distance. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

ABSTRACT: Numerous studies have examined the association between the surrounding neighborhood environment and physical activity levels in adolescents. Many of these studies use a road network buffer or Euclidean distance buffer around an adolescent's home to represent the appropriate geographic area for study (i.e., neighborhood). However, little empirical research has examined the appropriate buffer size to use when defining this area and there is little consistency across published research as to the buffer size used. In this study, 909 12th grade adolescent girls of diverse racial and geographic backgrounds were asked to report their perceptions of an easy walking distance and a convenient driving distance. These two criterions are often used as the basis for defining one's neighborhood.The mean easy walking distance in minutes reported by adolescent girls was 14.8 minutes (SD = 8.7). The mean convenient driving distance in minutes reported was 17.9 minutes (SD = 10.8). Nested linear multivariate regression models found significant differences in reported 'easy walking distance' across race and BMI. White adolescents reported on average almost 2 minutes longer for an easy walking distance compared to African American adolescents. Adolescents who were not overweight or at risk for overweight reported almost 2 minutes fewer for an easy walking distance relative to those who were overweight or at risk for overweight. Significant differences by urban status were found in the reported 'convenient driving distance'. Those living in non-urban areas reported on average 3.2 minutes more driving time as convenient compared to those living in urban areas. Very little variability in reported walking and driving distances was explained by the predictors used in the models (i.e., age, race, BMI, physical activity levels, urban status and SES).This study suggests the use of a 0.75 mile buffer to represent an older female adolescent's neighborhood, which can be accessed through walking. However, determining the appropriate area inclusive of car travel should be tailored to the geographic location of the adolescent since non-urban adolescents are willing to spend more time driving to destinations. Further research is needed to understand the substantial variability across adolescent perceptions of an easy walking and convenient driving distance.

R. Cole, E. Leslie, M. Donald, E. Cerin and N. Owen. (2007). Residential proximity to school and the active travel choices of parents. Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

ISSUE ADDRESSED: Walking for transport can contribute significantly to health-enhancing physical activity. We examined the prevalence and duration of walking to and from school, together with perceived influences on doing so, among parents of primary school children. METHODS: Questionnaires were completed by parents from four primary schools (one government and three private) located in south-east Queensland (n=559; 40% response rate). RESULTS: Eighteen per cent of parents reported walking for at least 10 minutes during journeys to school. Significantly greater proportions of parents with only one car in their household, with a child who attended a government school, with no driver's licence, who had less than 11 years of education, and lived within two kilometres of the school walked for at least 10 minutes during the school journey. Factors perceived by parents most strongly to influence walking to school were: being physically active; safety concerns for the child walking alone; not having to park; walking being the child's preferred option; too much motor vehicle traffic; and their child's age and level of road sense. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the overall low prevalence of walking to school by parents, health-enhancing benefits may be achieved even when other modes of transport are used in conjunction with walking.

M. A. Coogan, K. H. Karash, T. Adler and J. Sallis. (2007). The role of personal values, urban form, and auto availability in the analysis of walking for transportation. American Journal of Health Promotion.

PURPOSE: To examine the association of personal values, the built environment, and auto availability with walking for transportation. SETTING: Participants were drawn from 11 U.S. metropolitan areas with good transit services. SUBJECTS: 865 adults who had recently made or were contemplating making a residential move. MEASURES: Respondents reported if walking was their primary mode for nine trip purposes. "Personal values" reflected ratings of 15 variables assessing attitudes about urban and environmental attributes, with high reliability (ot = 0.85). Neighborhood form was indicated by a three-item scale. Three binary variables were created to reflect (1) personal values, (2) neighborhood form, and (3) auto availability. DESIGN: The association with walking was reported for each of the three variables, each combination of two variables, and the combination of three variables. An analysis of covariance was applied, and a hierarchic linear regression model was developed. RESULTS: All three variables were associated with walking, and all three variables interacted. The standardized coefficients were 0.23for neighborhood form, 0.21 for autos per person, and 0.18 for personal values. CONCLUSION: Positive attitudes about urban attributes, living in a supportive neighborhood, and low automobile availability significantly predicted more walking for transportation. A framework for further research is proposed in which a factor representing the role of the automobile is examined explicitly in addition to personal values and urban form.




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