Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The urban environment and physical activity: Factors impacting adolescents' use of recreational facilities
by Ries, Amy Vastine, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2007, 201; 3262365
Abstract (Summary)

Aims. The aims of this research are (1) to qualitatively investigate environmental factors influencing both physical activity and recreational facility use for physical activity and (2) to identify and test the statistical significance of associations between park use and objective and perceived measures of the environment.

Methods. Data were collected from students at two predominately African American magnet high schools in Baltimore, Maryland. Multiple qualitative methods were used to address the first aim. First, concept mapping was conducted with 50 adolescents to elicit and rate the importance of environmental factors influencing physical activity. Next, 48 in-depth interviews and 26 direct observations were conducted to explore factors influencing the use of parks and recreation centers for physical activity. To address the second aim, survey data collected from 329 adolescents and Geographical Information Systems data assessing neighborhood park availability and crime were analyzed. Logistic regression models were used to test associations between park use and objective and perceived environmental characteristics.

Results. Adolescents identified seven domains that they perceive of as influencing their physical activity. The relative importance of these domains varied by gender. Young women rated negative social influences, such as crime and violence, as most important to physical activity while young men rated social support and physical activity settings as most important. Adolescents reported several factors that impact facility use, including the presence of adolescent-oriented facilities, maintenance, proximity to home, and cost. The social environment is a key factor, as adolescents prefer safe facilities where they find other active adolescents. The quantitative analysis revealed that objective environmental measures, including park availability and neighborhood crime, were not associated with park use. Several self-reported measures, including increased park availability, park quality, and park use by peers and family, were positively associated with park use. Perceived neighborhood crime, however, was not associated with park use.

Conclusions. This research underscores the relevance of program and policy efforts that aim to promote physical activity through modifications to the environment. Moreover, it highlights the need to develop multi-level intervention approaches that address characteristics of the social and physical environments as well as adolescents' perceptions of the environment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Astone, Nan Marie
School: The Johns Hopkins University
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-B 68/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Public health, Sports medicine
Keywords: Adolescents, Physical activity, Recreational facilities, Urban
Publication Number: 3262365
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