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Research Project: Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity Related Health Behaviors in Children and Their Environment

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Title: Assessment of Neighborhood Street Segment Characteristics Related to Physical Activity in the Lower Mississippi Delta

item Goodman, Melissa
item Thomson, Jessica
item Landry, Alicia - University Of Central Arkansas

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/29/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Background: Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, can reduce the risk of premature mortality, prevent weight gain and the development of many chronic diseases, and improve psychological well-being. Yet the physical activity levels of women participating in a diet and physical activity intervention, Delta Healthy Sprouts, remained low throughout their gestational and postnatal periods. Researchers hypothesized that the neighborhood street environment may have contributed to the low levels of physical activity reported by these women who resided in the rural Lower Mississippi Delta region of the United States. Objectives: The objective of this ancillary study was to determine aspects of the Delta Healthy Sprouts participants’ neighborhood street environment that may have contributed to their low levels of physical activity reported in both the gestational and postnatal periods. Methods: Between 2016 and 2017, 615 street segments surrounding Delta Healthy Sprouts participants’ homes were measured for physical activity related characteristics using the Rural Active Living Assessment’s Street Segment tool. Street segments were built by combining all block segments within ¼ mile walking distance by road from a participant’s residence as identified using Google Maps “measure distance” tool. Segment length was verified physically in the field using the Track My Walks app and subsequently confirmed using the “distance” tool in ArcMaps. Street segment characteristics were summarized using descriptive statistics. Results: The median length of the street segments was 0.19 miles (mean = 0.22, standard deviation = 0.14). All segments had flat terrain and the most prevalent land use purposes were residential (98%), followed by open spaces (74%), and public/civic (34%). Almost three-quarters of the street segments did not have any sidewalks (69%), sidewalk buffers or defined shoulders (73%), crosswalks or pedestrian signage (69%), or posted speed limits (74%). However, 88% had stop signs and almost all (96%) had street lighting and were paved multi-lane roads (95%) with low traffic volume (90%). Most of the residential structures present on the street segments were single family detached homes (95%) and the most common public/civic and commercial structures were churches (23%) and convenience stores (9%), respectively. Almost all of the street segments were rated as walkable (99%) and aesthetically pleasing (94%) by research data collectors. Conclusions: While the neighborhood street segments surrounding Delta Healthy Sprouts participants’ homes were considered walkable and aesthetically pleasing, most lacked safety features such as sidewalks, pedestrian signage, and posted speed limits. Implications for Practice and Policy: To facilitate physical activity, particularly walking, among rural residents, safe neighborhood walking routes are needed. Infrastructure changes are essential to address lacking safety features such sidewalks, pedestrian signage, and posted speed limits. Support/Funding Source: US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (Project 6401-53000-003-00D).