Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neighborhoods play key role in how much people exercise

19.03.2008
The neighborhoods people live in can help inspire – or discourage – their residents to exercise and keep physically active, new research suggests.

Residents of neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty, lower education, and more female-headed families are less likely than others to exercise, according to the study.

It’s not simply that poorer people are less likely to exercise, researchers say. In fact, the study, which was done in Chicago, found that a person’s individual income wasn’t as important as the neighborhood he or she lived in for determining exercise levels.

“We can’t encourage people to exercise more without looking at the neighborhood environment in which they live,” said Christopher Browning, co-author of the study and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

“Some people may have the personal resources and desire to exercise, but don’t live in a neighborhood in which they feel comfortable to go outside for activities.”

The study found that neighborhood context was more important for women than for men in determining how much they exercised.

The findings also showed that levels of trust among neighbors, perceived violence in the community, and beliefs that neighbors help each other, all contributed to how much people exercised in a specific community.

Taken together, the results show that a wide variety of social and economic factors outside of any individual’s control can impact physical activity, Browning said.

Browning conducted the study with Ming Wen, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Utah, and Kathleen Cagney, associate professor of health studies at the University of Chicago. Their study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Urban Studies.

The study looked at levels of exercise among 8,782 residents of 373 neighborhoods in Chicago. The study combined statistics from three data sources from the 1990s: the Metropolitan Chicago Information Center Metro Survey, the 1990 U.S. Census, and the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods Survey.

Results showed that the social and economic characteristics of a community – including the level of poverty – were the most important factors in determining levels of physical activity.

Browning said it was somewhat surprising and noteworthy that neighborhood characteristics were more important than an individual’s income in determining how much he or she exercises.

“The result is surprising enough that it needs to be confirmed by other studies,” he said. “But if the finding is substantiated, it would show just how important neighborhoods are, and would have important implications for any new initiatives aimed at enhancing health and well-being.”

Another important finding was that women’s exercise habits were affected by the neighborhood more than men.

“This could help us understand why African American women have much higher obesity rates than other groups,” Browning said.

Contrary to other research, this study found that once neighborhood factors were taken into account, African Americans in general exercised as much as white residents did. Browning said this finding suggests African Americans will exercise more if they live in neighborhoods where they feel comfortable doing so.

While social and economic factors played the largest role in exercise, the findings also showed residents were affected by neighborhood safety, their levels of trust with neighbors, and the degree to which they said residents helped each other in their community.

“Neighborhoods where people do not trust each other or help each other and where violent crimes are prevalent may tend to push better-off people away – a process that leaves more people in poverty and deteriorating neighborhood conditions,” Browning said. “All of this leaves an environment that is not amenable to getting outside to exercise.”

Other studies have found that exercise levels can be increased by improving the physical components of a neighborhood – such as creating high-quality parks, sidewalks and recreation centers. But Browning said this study shows that the social environment in a neighborhood needs to be considered along with the physical environment.

“We don’t know the relative role of the physical and social environments of a neighborhood,” Browning said. “However, it seems likely that they are constantly reinforcing and reacting to one another. When there is high poverty and low levels of trust in a community, it is harder to mobilize people to achieve neighborhood goals, such as improving parks and cleaning up streets.”

The study was partially funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Christopher Browning | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>