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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Nov;41(5):473-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.07.023.

Perceived built environment and physical activity in U.S. women by sprawl and region.

Author information

  • 1Department of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-02046, USA. ptroped@purdue.edu



A number of studies have demonstrated relationships between the perceived built environment and physical activity among adults. However, little is known about whether these associations differ by U.S. region and level of urban sprawl.


To examine associations between the perceived built environment and physical activity in U.S. women by region and urban sprawl.


Nurses' Health Study II participants (N=68,968) completed four perceived neighborhood environment survey items in 2005. Logistic regression was used to estimate associations with meeting physical activity recommendations, adjusting for demographic and weight-status variables, and stratifying by region and sprawl. Data analyses were completed in 2011.


Perceived proximity to shops/stores was positively associated with physical activity across regions and levels of sprawl (ORs=1.21-1.46). Perceived access to recreation facilities was also a positive physical activity correlate in most region-sprawl strata, with strongest relationships found in the West (ORs=1.31-1.70). Perceived crime and presence of sidewalks did not show statistically significant associations with physical activity in most region-sprawl strata, although ORs for perceived crime showed a consistent pattern of negative associations (ORs=0.60-0.95). A higher number of positive environmental attributes was associated with a greater odds of meeting physical activity recommendations.


Findings indicate that perceived proximity to shops/stores and access to recreation facilities are important correlates of physical activity for women, irrespective of region or sprawl.

Copyright © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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