An Ecological Approach to Creating More Physically Active Communities

Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92103, USA.
Annual Review of Public Health (Impact Factor: 6.47). 02/2006; 27(1):297-322. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.27.021405.102100
Source: PubMed


The thesis of this article is that multilevel interventions based on ecological models and targeting individuals, social environments, physical environments, and policies must be implemented to achieve population change in physical activity. A model is proposed that identifies potential environmental and policy influences on four domains of active living: recreation, transport, occupation, and household. Multilevel research and interventions require multiple disciplines to combine concepts and methods to create new transdisciplinary approaches. The contributions being made by a broad range of disciplines are summarized. Research to date supports a conclusion that there are multiple levels of influence on physical activity, and the active living domains are associated with different environmental variables. Continued research is needed to provide detailed findings that can inform improved designs of communities, transportation systems, and recreation facilities. Collaborations with policy researchers may improve the likelihood of translating research findings into changes in environments, policies, and practices.

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    • "It is well established that the design of outdoor public spaces influences human activity and social behavior (Lestan et al., 2014; Oka, 2011). For example, recognition of the relationship between urban form and frequency of walking and bicycling (Frank and Engelkel, 2001; Saelens et al., 2003) has implications for urban design, transportation systems (Lee and Vernez Moudon, 2004), recreation facilities, and public health policy (Sallis et al., 2006). The health benefits of accessible green spaces is widely acknowledged, however, prospective studies that measure the impact that specific built environment changes have on population physical activity are lacking (Lee and Maheswaran, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Community parks have achieved recognition as a public health intervention to promote physical activity. This study evaluated changes in population-level physical activity when an undeveloped green space adjacent to transitional housing for refugees was transformed into a recreational park. A prospective, nonrandomized study design used the System of Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) to document the number and activity levels of park users over time, and to compare trends pre-and post-construction. T-tests or tests of medians (when appropriate) were used to compare pre-and post-construction changes in use of non-park and park zones for physical activity and changes in park use by age and gender. Pre-and post-comparisons of people observed using non-park zones (i.e., adjacent streets, alleys and parking lots) and park zones indicated a 38% decrease in energy expended in non-park zones and a 3-fold increase in energy expended within the park (P = 0.002). The majority of park users pre-and post-construction were children, however the proportion of adolescent males observed in vigorous activity increased from 11% to 38% (P = 0.007). Adolescent females and elderly continued to be under-represented in the park. Our findings support an association between creation of accessible outdoor spaces for recreation and improvements in physical activity. Community involvement in park design assured that features included in the park space matched the needs and desires of the communities served. Some demographic groups were still under-represented within the park, suggesting a need to develop targeted outreach strategies and programming.
    Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 12/2015; 14(2):293-299. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2015.02.011 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    • "Over the past decade, there has been growing interest by the public health and planning communities to better understand how modifications to the built environment and related policies influence obesity, other chronic diseases and overall health (Cummins et al., 2007; Diez Roux, 2003; Jackson and Kochtitzky, 2003; Northridge et al., 2003; Sallis et al., 2006; Srinivasan et al., 2003). What is largely absent from the scientific literature is empirical research that examines the underlying ecological, emotional, and social processes that help realize the community health benefits from physical and natural features of the local environment (Blacksher and Lovasi, 2012; Pereira et al., 2013; Wood et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Rationale: The social, emotional, and mental health benefits associated with gardening have been well documented. However, the processes underlying the relationship between garden participation and improvements in health status have not been sufficiently studied. Methods: Using population-based survey data (n = 469 urban residents), objective street environment data, and area-level measures, this research used a path analytic framework to examine several theoretically based constructs as mediators between gardening history and self-reported health. Results: The results showed that garden participation influenced health status indirectly through social involvement with one's community, perceived aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood, and perceived collective efficacy. Gardeners, compared to non-gardeners, reported higher ratings of neighborhood aesthetics and more involvement in social activities, whereas aesthetics and involvement were associated with higher ratings of collective efficacy and neighborhood attachment. Collective efficacy, but not neighborhood attachment, predicted self-rated health. Gardening also directly influenced improved fruit and vegetable intake. The physical and social qualities of garden participation may therefore stimulate a range of interpersonal and social responses that are supportive of positive ratings of health. Conclusion: This research suggests that community planners and health professionals should aim to strengthen the social and aesthetic relationships while designing environments and policies as a way to ignite intermediate processes that may lead to improved health status.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 10/2015; 144. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.09.004 · 2.89 Impact Factor
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    • "lt and social environments conducive to children ' s independent walking , cycling and outdoor play . Intervention measures may include active travel policies in schools and government funding for active transport infrastructures ( e . g . footpaths and cycling trails ) , traffic calming measures , zoning , parks and playgrounds in the community ( Sallis et al . 2006 ; Panter , Jones , and van Sluijs 2008 ) . In addition , intervention measures may involve parental education on the health and social benefits of children ' s independent mobility , and the promotion of neighbour relations and social networks that may help assure parents that the neighbourhood is a safe place for children ' s independe"
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated changes in Australian children’s independent mobility levels between1991 and 2012. Data from five cross-sectional studies conducted in 1991, 1993, 2010, 2011 and 2012 were analysed. Parent and child surveys were used to assess parental licences for independent mobility and actual independent mobility behaviour in children aged 8–13 years. Findings show declines in the proportion of young children (≤10 years of age) being allowed to travel home from school alone (1991: 68%, 1993: 50%, 2010: 43%, 2011: 45%, 2012: 31%) and travel on buses alone (1991: 31%, 1993: 15%, 2010: 8%, 2011: 6%, 2012: 9%). Furthermore, the proportion of children travelling independently to school decreased (1991: 61%, 1993: 42%, 2010: 31%, 2011: 32%, 2012: 32%). Significantly fewer girls than boys travelled independently to school at each time point (p ≤ .001). Overall, the findings suggest that Australian children’s independent mobility levels declined between 1991 and 2012.
    Children s Geographies 09/2015; DOI:10.1080/14733285.2015.1082083 · 1.16 Impact Factor
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