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Neighborhoods play key role in how much people exercise, study says
Date:3/17/2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio 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.

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

We cant 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 dont 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 individuals 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 Metrop
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Contact: Christopher Browning
Browning.90@osu.edu
614-292-2983
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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