Are safety-related features of the road environment associated with smaller declines in physical activity among youth?

Carver, Alison, Timperio, Anna, Hesketh, Kylie and Crawford, David 2010, Are safety-related features of the road environment associated with smaller declines in physical activity among youth?, Journal of urban health, vol. 87, no. 1, pp. 29-43.

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Title Are safety-related features of the road environment associated with smaller declines in physical activity among youth?
Author(s) Carver, Alison
Timperio, Anna
Hesketh, Kylie
Crawford, David
Journal name Journal of urban health
Volume number 87
Issue number 1
Start page 29
End page 43
Total pages 15
Publisher Springer New York LLC
Place of publication New York, N.Y.
Publication date 2010-01
ISSN 1099-3460
1468-2869
Keyword(s) Child
Adolescent
Physical activity
Neighborhood
Safety
Summary This study examined how objective measures of the local road environment related to safety were associated with change in physical activity (including active transport) among youth. Few longitudinal studies have examined the impact of the road environment on physical activity among children/adolescents in their neighborhoods. Participants were children aged 8–9 years (n=170) and adolescents aged 13–15 years (n=276) in 2004. Data were collected in 2004 and 2006 during followup of participants recruited initially in 2001 from 19 primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. Walking/cycling to local destinations was parent-reported for children and self-reported by adolescents. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during nonschool hours was recorded using accelerometers. Road environment features in each participant’s neighborhood (area within 800 m radius of their home) were measured objectively using a Geographical Information System. Linear regression analyses examined associations between road features and changes in active transport (AT) and MVPA over 2 years. Children’s AT increased but MVPA levels decreased in both age groups; on average, younger girls recorded the greatest declines. The number of traffic/pedestrian lights was associated with ΔAT among younger girls (B=0.45, p=0.004). The total length of walking tracks (in meters) was associated with ΔAT among younger girls (B=0.0016, p=0.015) and adolescent girls (B=0.0016, p=0.002). For adolescent boys, intersection density was associated with ΔAT (B=0.03, p=0.030). Slow points were associated with ΔMVPA among younger boys before school (B=1.55, p=0.021), while speed humps were associated with ΔMVPA among adolescent boys after school (B=0.23, p=0.015). There were many associations for adolescent girls: for example, the total length of local roads (B=0.49, p=0.005), intersection density (B=0.05, p=0.036), and number of speed humps (B=0.33, p=0.020) were associated with ΔMVPA during nonschool hours. Safety-related aspects of the built environment are conducive to physical activity among youth and may help stem age-related declines in physical activity. Passive road safety interventions may promote AT and physical activity among less active girls, in particular.
Language eng
Field of Research 111712 Health Promotion
Socio Economic Objective 920205 Health Education and Promotion
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2009, The New York Academy of Medicine
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30031020

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