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 individuals 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 womens 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 exer
|Contact: Christopher Browning|
Ohio State University