Introduction to the Active Living Research Reference List 2007

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R. B. Copperman and C. R. Bhat. (2007). An analysis of the determinants of children's weekend physical activity participation. Transportation.

This paper examines the out-of-home, weekend, time-use patterns of children aged 5-17 years, with a specific emphasis on their physical activity participation. The impact of several types of factors, including individual and household demographics, neighborhood demographics, built environment characteristics, and activity day variables, on physical activity participation is analyzed using a joint nested multiple discrete-continuous extreme value-binary choice model. The sample for analysis is drawn from the 2000 San Francisco Bay Area Travel Survey. The model developed in the paper can be used to assess the impacts of changing demographics and built environment characteristics on children's physical activity levels.

A. E. Cox, L. Williams and A. L. Smith. (2007). Motivation in physical education and physical activity behavior outside of school. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology.
A. L. Cradock, Melly, S.J., Allen, J.G., Morris, J.S., Gortmaker, S.L. (2007). Characteristics of School Campuses and Physical Activity Among Youth. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


Previous research suggests that school characteristics may influence physical activity. However, few studies have examined associations between school building and campus characteristics and objective measures of physical activity among middle school students.


Students from ten middle schools (n=248, 42% female, mean age 13.7 years) wore TriTrac-R3D accelerometers in 1997 recording measures of minute-by-minute physical movements during the school day that were then averaged over 15-minute intervals (n=16,619) and log-transformed. School characteristics, including school campus area, play area, and building area (per student) were assessed retrospectively in 2004–2005 using land-use parcel data, site visits, ortho-photos, architectural plans, and site maps. In 2006, linear mixed models using SAS PROC MIXED were fit to examine associations between school environmental variables and physical activity, controlling for potentially confounding variables.


Area per enrolled student ranged from 8.8 to 143.7 m2 for school campuses, from 12.1 to 24.7 m2 for buildings, and from 0.4 to 58.9 m2 for play areas. Play area comprised from 3% to 62% of total campus area across schools. In separate regression models, school campus area per student (β=0.2244, p<0.0001); building area per student (β=2.1302, p<0.02); and play area per student (β=0.347, p<0.0001) were each directly associated with log-TriTrac-R3D vector magnitude. Given the range of area density measures in this sample of schools, this translates into an approximate 20% to 30% increase in average vector magnitude, or walking 2 extra miles over the course of a week.


Larger school campuses, school buildings, and play areas (per enrolled student) are associated with higher levels of physical activity in middle school students.

H. Cutt, B. Giles-Corti, M. Knuiman and V. Burke. (2007). Dog ownership, health and physical activity: A critical review of the literature. Health & Place.

This review examines the association between dog ownership and adult physical activity levels. While there is evidence to suggest that dog ownership produces considerable health benefit and provides an important form of social support that encourages dog owners to walk, there is limited evidence on the physical environmental and policy-related factors that affect dog owners walking with their dog. With the high level of dog ownership in many industrialized countries, further exploration of the relationship between dog ownership and physical activity levels may be important for preventing declining levels of physical activity and the associated detrimental health effects. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

H. Cutt, B. Giles-Corti and M. Knuiman. (2008). Encouraging physical activity through dog walking: Why don't some owners walk with their dog? Preventive Medicine.

OBJECTIVE.: To identify factors associated with owners not walking with their dog. METHOD.: Dog owners (n=629) taking part in the RESIDE study, Perth, Western Australia completed a self-administered questionnaire in 2005-06 that included items about the dog, dog-owner relationship, dog walking and intrapersonal and environmental factors associated with dog walking. Physical activity data were also collected using NPAQ. RESULTS.: Overall, 23% of dog owners did not walk with their dog. More dog walkers achieved 150 min of physical activity/week than owners who did not walk with their dog (72% vs. 44%, p<0.001). Not walking with a dog was significantly more likely in owners who did not perceive that their dog provided motivation (OR 9.60, 95% CI: 4.37, 21.08) or social support (OR 10.84, 95% CI: 5.15, 22.80) to walk, independent of other well-known correlates of physical activity. CONCLUSION.: There would be a significant impact on community physical activity levels if owners who do not walk with their dog could be persuaded to begin dog walking. Understanding the factors that discourage or facilitate owners to walk with their dog will assist in tailoring interventions designed to encourage both the uptake and maintenance of regular dog walking.

H. Cutt, B. Giles-Corti, M. Knuiman, A. Timperio and F. Bull. (2008). Understanding dog owners' increased levels of physical activity: results from RESIDE. American Journal of Public Health.

We examined the influence of dog ownership on physical activity, independent of demographic, intrapersonal, and perceived environmental factors, in a cross-sectional survey of 1813 adults. Although only 23% of the dog owners walked their dogs 5 or more times per week, the adjusted odds of achieving sufficient physical activity and walking were 57% to 77% higher among dog owners compared with those not owning dogs (P<.05). Dog ownership was independently associated with physical activity and walking. Actively encouraging more dog walking may increase community physical activity levels.

S. Dagkas and A. Stathi. (2007). Exploring social and environmental factors affecting adolescents' participation in physical activity. European Physical Education Review.

This study explores the social factors that influence young people's participation in school and out of school physical activities. Fifty-two 16-year-old adolescents from different socioeconomic backgrounds in one suburban and one inner-city secondary school in the Midlands, UK, participated in group interviews which explored their perceptions about physical activity and the constraints they had experienced. The study suggests that involvement in physical activity is linked with students' social class, home environment and economic status. The level of participation of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds was limited compared to their higher socioeconomic counterparts. Furthermore, adolescents' 'cultural', physical' and 'economic' capital were salient factors in their involvement in physical activity settings. This study stresses the need for better and wider provision of structured physical activity in schools in economically deprived areas to compensate for lower participation levels.

T. M. Damush, L. Plue, T. Bakas, A. Schmid and L. S. Williams. (2007). Barriers and facilitators to exercise among stroke survivors. Rehabil Nurs.

Physical activity after stroke may prevent disability and stroke recurrence; yet, physical impairments may inhibit poststroke exercise and subsequently limit recovery. The goal of this study was to elicit barriers to and facilitators of exercise after stroke. We conducted three focus groups and achieved content saturation from 13 stroke survivors--eight men and five women--85% of whom were African American and 15% White, with a mean age of 59 years. We coded and analyzed the transcripts from the focus groups for common themes. Participants across groups reported three barriers (physical impairments from stroke, lack of motivation, and environmental factors) and three facilitators (motivation, social support, and planned activities to fill empty schedule) to exercise after stroke. Exercise activity can provide a purpose and structure to a stroke survivor's daily schedule, which may be interrupted after stroke. In addition, receiving social support from peers and providers, as well as offering stroke-specific exercise programming, may enhance physical activity of stroke survivors including those with disabilities. We intend to incorporate these findings into a post-stroke self-management exercise program.

M. Danyluk and D. Ley. (2007). Modalities of the new middle class: Ideology and behaviour in the journey to work from gentrified neighbourhoods in Canada. Urban Studies.

This study examines the relationship between gentrification and the transport mode selected for the journey to work. A review of surveys, ethnographies and electoral records shows a liberal and anti-suburban ideology associated with gentrification, including endorsement of sustainability and the public household. Consequently, one would expect to find non-automobile transport prevailing in gentrified districts. Data secured from the Census of Canada permit this proposition to be examined for the central cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The results show some complexity, due in part to divisions internal to gentrified neighbourhoods. The most robust results reveal an overrepresentation of cycling to work in gentrified districts and, surprisingly in light of a putative left-liberal ideology, an underutilisation of public transport compared with other districts.

K. Dasgupta, L. Joseph, L. Pilote, C. Chan, R. Sigal, D. Da Costa, I. Strachan, D. Chan and N. Ross. (2007). Walking is associated with neighbourhood characteristics among adults with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes.
J. Dawson, M. Hillsdon, I. Boller and C. Foster. (2007). Perceived barriers to walking in the neighborhood environment: A survey of middle-aged and older adults. Journal Of Aging And Physical Activity.

The authors investigated whether low levels of walking among older adults in the UK were associated with demographic and health characteristics, as well as perceived environmental attributes. Survey data were obtained from self-administered standard questionnaires given to 680 people age 50+ (mean age 64.4 yr) attending nationally led walking schemes. Items concerned with demographic characteristics and perceived barriers to neighborhood walking were analyzed using multiple logistic regression. Citing more than I environmental barrier to walking, versus not, was associated with significantly reduced levels of (leisure) walking (MET/hr) in the preceding week (Z = -2.35, p =.019), but physical activity levels overall did not differ significantly (Z = -0.71, p =.48). Citing a health-related barrier to walking significantly adversely affected overall physical activity levels (Z = -2.72, p =.006). The authors concluded that, among older people who favor walking, health problems might more seriously affect overall physical activity levels than perceived environmental barriers.

J. Dawson, M. Hillsdon, I. Boller and C. Foster. (2007). Perceived barriers to walking in the neighbourhood environment and change in physical activity levels over 12 months. British Journal Of Sports Medicine.

Objectives: To investigate whether, and to what extent, perceived barriers to neighbourhood walking (BTNW) may be associated with physical activity levels. Design: Prospective survey with 12-month follow-up. Subjects and methods: 750 people attending walking schemes throughout England and Scotland; 551 completed the follow-up. independent variables were demographic characteristics, examples of possible "external'' barriers to walking-for example, "worries about personal safety'', and one item concerning ill health. The main outcome measures were "metabolic equivalent'' (MET) hours' walking and overall physical activity in the preceding week. Results: Baseline and follow-up demographic characteristics were similar and physical activity levels generally high. Leisure walking changed little over 12 months, while total physical activity levels reduced significantly from a mean (SD) of 71.26 (78.14) MET hours per week at baseline to 59.57 (181.40) at the 12-month follow-up (p<0.001). External BTNW cited between baseline and 12 months increased significantly from a mean (SD) of 1.24 (1.61) at baseline to 1.43 (1.72) at the 12-month follow-up (p<0.001); only "worries about personal safety'' reduced. A significant association was found between citing a health-related BTNW and the total number of external BTNW that were reported at baseline. The strength of this association increased over 12 months. Neither changes in reporting external BTNW that occurred over 12 months (increased vs decreased, vs unchanged) nor changes in the presence of a health-related BTNW were significantly related to levels of leisure walking and overall physical activity (MET hours in the preceding week) over the same period. Conclusion: Among older people who attended walking schemes, having a health problem that restricted walking had a detrimental influence on people's perceptions about external BTNW, which increased over time. Actual levels of walking and overall physical activity levels did not appear to be significantly affected by this.

B. de Geus, I. De Bourdeaudhuij, C. Jannes and R. Meeusen. (2007). Psychosocial and environmental factors associated with cycling for transport among a working population. Health Education Research.

The aim of this study was to examine psychosocial and environmental predictors of cycling for transportation. A sample of 343 Flemish adults (43% men) living at maximum 10 km from their workplace was surveyed. Self-report measures of cycling, demographic variables, psychosocial variables, self-efficacy, perceived benefits and barriers and environmental attributes (destination, traffic variables and facilities at the workplace) of cycling for transport were obtained by means of a mailing questionnaire. Modeling and social support by accompanying, external self-efficacy, ecological-economic awareness and lack of time and interest were positively associated with the likelihood of cycling for transport and varied in importance between cyclists and non-cyclists. Cyclists estimate the time to destination shorter than non-cyclists and indicate to have more facilities for cyclists at the workplace. The results suggest that when people live in a setting with adequate bicycle infrastructure, individual determinants (psychosocial, self-efficacy, perceived benefits and barriers) outperform the role of environmental determinants in this sample. Promotion campaigns aimed at increasing cycling for transportation should focus on creating social support by encouraging cycling with partners, increasing self-efficacy, raising ecological and economic awareness, decreasing lack of time and interest barriers and providing facilities for cyclists at the workplace.

S. I. de Vries, I. Bakker, W. van Mechelen and M. Hopman-Rock. (2007). Determinants of activity-friendly neighborhoods for children: results from the SPACE study. American Journal of Health Promotion.

PURPOSE: To examine the association between children's physical activity and factors of the built environment. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. Setting. Ten neighborhoods in six cities in the Netherlands. SUBJECTS: Four hundred twenty-two children (age range, 6-11 years; 49% male). MEASURES: Physical activity diary, neighborhood observations, and anthropometric measures. ANALYSIS: Univariate and multivariate linear regression analyses. RESULTS: According to univariate analyses adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, and highest level of maternal education, physical activity (> or = 3 metabolic equivalents) was significantly (p <.05) associated with the proportion of green space, with the residential density, with the general impression of activity-friendliness of the neighborhood, and with the frequency of certain types of residences (e.g., terraced houses), sports fields, water, dog waste, heavy traffic, and safe walking and cycling conditions (e.g., cycle tracks and 30-km speed zones) in the neighborhood. According to adjusted multivariate analyses, physical activity was best predicted by the frequency of parallel parking spaces in the neighborhood and by the general impression of activity-friendliness of the neighborhood (I2 = 0. 193). CONCLUSIONS: Children's physical activity is associated with certain modifiable factors of the built environment. Longitudinal studies should examine whether there is a causal relationship.

S. E. Doerksen, R. W. Motl and E. McAuley. (2007). Environmental correlates of physical activity in multiple sclerosis: A cross-sectional study. International Journal Of Behavioral Nutrition And Physical Activity.

Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease that is associated with physical inactivity. Understanding the factors that correlate with physical activity is important for developing effective physical activity promotion programs for this population. Thus, we conducted a cross-sectional study that examined the association between features of the built environment with self-reported and objectively measured physical activity behaviour in adults with MS. Methods: Participants with MS (n = 196) were sent a questionnaire packet that included self-report measures of the built environment and physical activity and a pedometer in the mail and were instructed to complete the questionnaires and wear the device for seven days. Participants returned the completed questionnaires in a pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelope. Bivariate correlation analysis was conducted for examining associations between items on the environmental questionnaire with the two measures of physical activity. Stepwise regression analysis was conducted for determining the independent contributions of the significant environmental correlates for explaining variation in physical activity. Results: Correlational analysis indicated that presence of shops, stores, markets or other places within walking distance (r =.20; rho =.18), presence of a transit stop within walking distance (r =.20; rho =.16), and accessibility of free or low-cost recreation facilities (r =.16; rho =.15) were related to pedometer, but not self-reported, measured physical activity. Regression analysis indicated that the presence of a transit stop within walking distance independently explained 4% of variance in pedometer measured physical activity. Conclusion: Physical activity is an important behaviour to promote among individuals with MS. This study indicated that aspects of the built environment are related to this health promoting behaviour among those with MS. Further research should focus on the longitudinal relationships among aspects of the environment with physical activity so as to provide strong background for developing effective promotion programs for people with MS.

J. Dollman and N. R. Lewis. (2007). Active transport to school as part of a broader habit of walking-and cycling among south Australian youth. Pediatric Exercise Science.

This study examined whether active commuting to and from school was associated with more frequent walking and cycling to other neighborhood destinations. Parents reported on free-time physical activity and frequency of active commuting among 1,643 South Australians (9-15 years), as well as their perceptions of risk associated with active commuting in the neighborhood. Groups were formed on the basis of active and motorized transport to and from school and compared on the frequency of walking and cycling to other neighborhood destinations. Those who actively commuted between home and school were approximately 30% more likely to actively commute to other neighborhood destinations, independent of age, free-time physical activity, and neighborhood risk. Active commuting to and from school is part of a broader habit of walking and cycling in the neighborhood among school age South Australians. The advantages of promoting active transport between home and school might extend beyond the energy expenditure of that journey alone.

O. T. Dombois, C. Braun-Fahrlander and E. Martin-Diener. (2007). Comparison of adult physical activity levels in three Swiss alpine communities with varying access to motorized transportation. Health & Place.

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To compare physical activity levels of residents of three Swiss alpine communities with varying access to motorized transport and to investigate whether socio-demographic factors, the settlement structure or means of transport affect these levels. METHODS: Between January and February 2004 a computer assisted telephone interview was conducted with 901 randomly selected adults aged 18 years or older living in three Swiss alpine communities. In particular, information on moderate and vigorous intensity physical activities and on transport behaviour was collected. Respondents were categorized as 'sufficiently active' or 'insufficiently active' according to self-reported physical activity. MAIN RESULTS: People living in community 1 without access to motorized traffic were significantly more likely to be sufficiently active (Sex- and age-adjusted prevalences of sufficient total physical activity, 43.9% 95% CI: 38.3%-49.8%) compared to individuals living in the other two communities (community 2: 35.9%, 95% CI: 30.6%-41.6%, community 3: 32.7%, 95% CI: 27.5%-38.3%). The differences were due to higher levels of moderate physical activities. Vigorous physical activity levels did not differ between the communities. Community differences were explained by passive means of transport to work and for leisure time activities. CONCLUSIONS: Although the environment encountered in the three alpine communities is generally conducive to physical activity the majority of the participants did not achieve recommended activity levels. Passive mode of transport to work and during leisure time was strongly associated with insufficient total physical activity. Walking and cycling for transportation is thus a promising approach to promote health enhancing physical activity.

M. Dowda, T. L. McKenzie, D. A. Cohen, M. M. Scott, K. R. Evenson, A. L. Bedimo-Rung, C. C. Voorhees and M. J. Almeida. (2007). Commercial venues as supports for physical activity in adolescent girls. Preventive Medicine.

OBJECTIVE: The purposes of this study were to describe the types and availability of commercial facilities for physical activity (PA) in six diverse geographic areas (Washington DC and Maryland; South Carolina; Minnesota; Louisiana; Arizona; and California) and to assess the relationship between those facilities and the non-school PA of adolescent girls. METHODS: A total of 1556 6th grade girls participating in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (TAAG) wore accelerometers for 7 days providing 6 days of complete data, completed questionnaires in 2003 and had their residential addresses geocoded. Nearby commercial facilities available to provide PA (i.e. dance studios, youth organizations) within a 1-mile radius of participants' residences were identified and geocoded. The association between the presence of any commercial PA facility and girls' PA was determined using a multi-level design and controlling for demographic characteristics and other potential confounders. Analyses were conducted in 2005-2006. RESULTS: Sixty-eight percent of the girls had at least one commercial PA facility near their homes. Availability and types of commercial PA facilities differed by where participants lived. Girls who lived near one or more commercial PA facilities had higher non-school MET-weighted moderate-to-vigorous PA than girls who had none near their homes. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that commercial PA facilities are important contributors to the accumulation of PA among adolescent girls.

L. du Toit, E. Cerin, E. Leslie and N. Owen. (2007). Does walking in the neighbourhood enhance local sociability? Urban Studies.

The walkability of urban neighbourhoods has emerged as a strong component in policy and design models for active, liveable communities. This paper examines the proposition that more walkable neighbourhoods encourage local social interaction, a sense of community, informal social control and social cohesion; and that the relationship is explained by walking for transport or for recreation. Multilevel analyses of data from an Australian sample showed a modest association between the walkability of a neighbourhood and sense of community only. Walking for transport, but not recreation, mediated this relationship although the effect was small. These results support contentions that 'walkability' is more complex than usually defined and that factors influencing neighbourhood sociability extend beyond issues of urban form.

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