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The Relationship Between Community Physical Activity Settings and Race, Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status

Powell LM, Slater S and Chaloupka FJ. Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine, 1(2): 135-144, 2004.

This study provides evidence on the association between the availability of community-level physical activity-related settings and race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES). We draw on outdoor observational data on community-level physical activity-related settings (such as sports areas, parks and green space, public pools and beaches, and bike paths/lanes) from the ImpacTeen Project and Census Bureau data. The results show that the availability of environmental factors that are conducive to physical activity such as sports areas, parks and green spaces, public pools and beaches, and the presence of bike paths/lanes is significantly associated with racial, ethnic and SES factors. We find that higher median household income and lower poverty rates are associated with increasing levels of available physical activity-related settings. Communities with higher proportions of minority races such as African American and the race category ‘other’ are associated with fewer physical activity settings. The results highlight the importance of targeting interventions in low SES areas and communities with minority populations where the associated barriers are relatively high and the levels of physical activity are known to be relatively low. 

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