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Low-income people, Exercise, Regression analysis, Neighborhoods


There is a growing body of evidence that environmental factors are related to physical activity and active modes of transportation. There is a separate body of research that links neighborhood safety to physical activity. This study used a cross sectional telephone survey of 801 parents/guardians of low income children in Florida to bridge these literatures and examine the independent relationship of the built environment and neighborhood safety on childrens' physical activity.

In multivariate regression models we find that neighborhood safety is a more consistent predictor of low income childrens' physical activity. In neighborhoods where parents reported that there was a safe outdoor place for children to play, children more frequently engaged in vigorous exercise. Children in these neighborhoods were also more likely to participate in sports teams and classes. Measures of the built environment, in contrast, were not related to physical activity. In sum, our findings point to the potential role of public safety in influencing physical activity. Efforts to improve neighborhood safety may have the added benefit of increasing children's physical activity levels in low income areas.


This is a final report, OTREC-RR-09-06, from the NITC program of TREC at Portland State University. More information can be found online at:



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