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The Ecologic Environment and Physical Activity: Innovations and Opportunities That Advance Research, Practice, and Policy

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2022) | Viewed by 26230

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Edson College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA
Interests: built environment; policy; physical activity; behavioral nutrition; communities of color; hispanic health; health equity; sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Population Health Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA
Interests: physical activity; built environment; nutrition; implementation science; community engaged research; health equity
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Texas A&M Agrilife Research, Dallas, TX 75252, USA
Interests: physical activity; healthy eating; dissemination; implementation; policy; organizational readiness; health equity; community-based participatory research; program evaluation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is widely accepted that participation in daily physical activity throughout the lifespan is associated with improved health and functioning. However, the ability to participate in physical activity often depends in part on the contribution, intersection, and/or interplay of ecologic factors such as those found in the built, policy, and social environment. This nexus of external factors remains an under-researched arena, particularly with respect to the frequency, intensity, timing, and type of physical activity and subsequent health outcomes. Multilevel organizational and contextual factors affecting intervention design, adoption, implementation, and sustainability also need further study. The identification and measurement of relationships between ecologic factors and physical activity requires the application of study designs, such as prospective longitudinal designs, randomized controlled and community trials, meta-analyses, and implementation and dissemination trials, as well as methodologies for data collection that leverage technologies drawing on mobile devices, telemetry, and virtual interfaces. In particular, advances are needed for underserved and under-resourced populations, including people of color, people with disabilities, and people across the lifespan, to ensure equitable access to physical activity opportunities exists in all places for all people.

Dr. Rebecca E. Lee
Dr. Jennie L. Hill
Dr. Jacob Szeszulski
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • physical activity
  • built environment
  • policy
  • underserved populations
  • health equity
  • sustainability
  • dissemination
  • implementation science
  • community-engaged research

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Published Papers (10 papers)

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12 pages, 357 KiB  
Article
Culture in Physical Activity: The Contribution of Basic Psychological Needs and Goal Orientation
by Duygu Gurleyik, Celia K. Naivar Sen, Jennifer L. Etnier and Ibrahim H. Acar
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(24), 16691; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416691 - 12 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1455
Abstract
Numerous variables affect motivation in physical activity (PA) with culture being an understudied variable. Self-determination theory’s basic psychological needs (BPN) includes a combination of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in PA; however, cultural definitions pit autonomy and relatedness against each other. Thus, this study [...] Read more.
Numerous variables affect motivation in physical activity (PA) with culture being an understudied variable. Self-determination theory’s basic psychological needs (BPN) includes a combination of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in PA; however, cultural definitions pit autonomy and relatedness against each other. Thus, this study aims to investigate the moderating role of culture on relationships between BPN, goal orientations (ego, task) for PA, and PA behavior. A survey was implemented to 168 participants (109 females, 59 males; 92 Turks, 76 Americans) investigating students’ self-construal type, their basic psychological needs in exercise (BPNES), PA levels (Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire/GLTEQ), and goal orientation types (Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire/TEOSQ). Turks (n = 92) and Americans (n = 76) demonstrated distinct cultural differences in terms of the study variables. American students were more autonomous, task-oriented, and physically active than Turkish students. Results from the multi-group path analysis showed that there was a moderating role of culture between predictors (i.e., BPN Autonomy, BPN Relatedness, BPN Competence, Ego Orientation, and Task Orientation) and Physical Activity. Such that, the paths from predictors (i.e., BPNT Autonomy, BPNT Relatedness, BPNT Competence, Ego Orientation, and Task Orientation) to PA was not significant in Turkish cultural context. Results suggest that culturally tailored approaches to PA interventions are critical in supporting motivation for physical activity and further research is needed to explore different culturally relevant motivational drivers for PA among adults. Full article
12 pages, 967 KiB  
Article
Coordinated Health in Texas Elementary Schools’ Campus Improvement Plans: Analysis of Regional Differences and Trends between 2016 and 2020
by Sarah Classen, Jacob Szeszulski, Nalini Ranjit, Genesis Rivas-Ponce and Deanna M. Hoelscher
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 4979; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19094979 - 20 Apr 2022
Viewed by 2227
Abstract
Schools signal health priorities through policies. Using a repeated cross-sectional study design, we compare the presence and strength of policies related to four topics—physical activity, nutrition, mental health, and bullying—described in elementary school Campus Improvement Plans (CIPs; also called school improvement plans) within [...] Read more.
Schools signal health priorities through policies. Using a repeated cross-sectional study design, we compare the presence and strength of policies related to four topics—physical activity, nutrition, mental health, and bullying—described in elementary school Campus Improvement Plans (CIPs; also called school improvement plans) within Texas, across four Texas Public Health Regions (PHRs), and between 2016 and 2020. CIPs were collected using a multi-stage probability-based survey approach, scored using an adapted WellSAT tool, and analyzed to determine associations between PHR or year and health topic. Across 170 CIPs, bullying was the most frequently addressed topic, followed by mental health, physical activity, and nutrition. On average, schools addressed 2.7 ± 1.3 topics within their CIP; 38.2% of schools addressed all four, 26.5% addressed three, 12.4% addressed two, 15.3% addressed one, and 7.6% addressed none. CIPs in the same district had high levels of clustering (ICCs = 0.28–0.55). The mostly rural Panhandle PHR included the fewest topics in their CIPs and used the weakest policy language. Between 2016 and 2020, there was a decrease in the proportion of CIPs that addressed nutrition; the strength of language for mental health and bullying also decreased. Regional and time trends reveal opportunities for more robust school health policy interventions. Full article
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11 pages, 297 KiB  
Article
Developing and Evaluating Newsletters for Parent Engagement in Sustainability via Active Garden Education (SAGE)
by Vinny Vi, Bin C. Suh, Elizabeth Lorenzo, Sarah Martinelli, Anel Arriola and Rebecca E. Lee
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(8), 4617; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084617 - 12 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1713
Abstract
Physical activity and nutrition preschool programming must involve parents in positive long-term healthy habits. This paper describes parent outreach in the Sustainability via Active Garden Education (SAGE) study. Newsletters were sent home with children to promote family opportunities to increase physical activity and [...] Read more.
Physical activity and nutrition preschool programming must involve parents in positive long-term healthy habits. This paper describes parent outreach in the Sustainability via Active Garden Education (SAGE) study. Newsletters were sent home with children to promote family opportunities to increase physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake. The content was generated via a community advisory board participatory process. Messages linked SAGE curriculum topics with home and community activities. Parents rated frequency of receipt, helpfulness, satisfaction, and use of content. Most participants were Hispanic (>78%) and women (>95%). Most reported receiving newsletters; nearly all reported that they were helpful. Favorite newsletter components included recipes, pictures of their children and seasonal produce spotlights. Most reported doing physical activities from the newsletters (51.9%). Few reported doing featured physical activity (8.9%) and fruit and vegetable (12.7%) community activities. Newsletter outreach methods are a simple strategy to add value to preschool-based interventions promoting healthy families. Full article
16 pages, 1090 KiB  
Article
Training Computers to See the Built Environment Related to Physical Activity: Detection of Microscale Walkability Features Using Computer Vision
by Marc A. Adams, Christine B. Phillips, Akshar Patel and Ariane Middel
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(8), 4548; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084548 - 9 Apr 2022
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2597
Abstract
The study purpose was to train and validate a deep learning approach to detect microscale streetscape features related to pedestrian physical activity. This work innovates by combining computer vision techniques with Google Street View (GSV) images to overcome impediments to conducting audits (e.g., [...] Read more.
The study purpose was to train and validate a deep learning approach to detect microscale streetscape features related to pedestrian physical activity. This work innovates by combining computer vision techniques with Google Street View (GSV) images to overcome impediments to conducting audits (e.g., time, safety, and expert labor cost). The EfficientNETB5 architecture was used to build deep learning models for eight microscale features guided by the Microscale Audit of Pedestrian Streetscapes Mini tool: sidewalks, sidewalk buffers, curb cuts, zebra and line crosswalks, walk signals, bike symbols, and streetlights. We used a train–correct loop, whereby images were trained on a training dataset, evaluated using a separate validation dataset, and trained further until acceptable performance metrics were achieved. Further, we used trained models to audit participant (N = 512) neighborhoods in the WalkIT Arizona trial. Correlations were explored between microscale features and GIS-measured and participant-reported neighborhood macroscale walkability. Classifier precision, recall, and overall accuracy were all over >84%. Total microscale was associated with overall macroscale walkability (r = 0.30, p < 0.001). Positive associations were found between model-detected and self-reported sidewalks (r = 0.41, p < 0.001) and sidewalk buffers (r = 0.26, p < 0.001). The computer vision model results suggest an alternative to trained human raters, allowing for audits of hundreds or thousands of neighborhoods for population surveillance or hypothesis testing. Full article
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24 pages, 2131 KiB  
Article
Evaluating the Dissemination and Implementation of a Community Health Worker-Based Community Wide Campaign to Improve Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Physical Activity among Latinos along the U.S.-Mexico Border
by Paul Gerardo Yeh, Belinda M. Reininger, Lisa A. Mitchell-Bennett, Minjae Lee, Tianlin Xu, Amanda C. Davé, Soo Kyung Park and Alma G. Ochoa-Del Toro
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(8), 4514; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084514 - 8 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2999
Abstract
This study evaluated the dissemination and implementation of a culturally tailored community-wide campaign (CWC), Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! (TSSC), to augment fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption and physical activity (PA) engagement among low-income Latinos of Mexican descent living along the U.S.-Mexico [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the dissemination and implementation of a culturally tailored community-wide campaign (CWC), Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! (TSSC), to augment fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption and physical activity (PA) engagement among low-income Latinos of Mexican descent living along the U.S.-Mexico Border in Texas. TSSC used longitudinal community health worker (CHW) home visits as a core vehicle to enact positive change across all socioecological levels to induce behavioral change. TSSC’s reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance (RE-AIM) was examined. A dietary questionnaire and the Godin-Shepherd Exercise Questionnaire measured program effectiveness on mean daily FV consumption and weekly PA engagement, respectively. Participants were classified based on CHW home visits into “low exposure” (2–3 visits) and “high exposure” (4–5 visits) groups. The TSSC program reached low-income Latinos (n = 5686) across twelve locations. TSSC demonstrated effectiveness as, compared to the low exposure group, the high exposure group had a greater FV intake (mean difference = +0.65 FV servings daily, 95% CI: 0.53–0.77) and an increased PA (mean difference = +185.6 MET-minutes weekly, 95% CI: 105.9–265.4) from baseline to the last follow-up on a multivariable linear regression analysis. Multivariable logistic regression revealed that the high exposure group had higher odds of meeting both FV guidelines (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.03, 95% CI: 1.65–2.47) and PA guidelines (AOR = 1.36, 95% CI: 1.10–1.68) at the last follow-up. The program had a 92.3% adoption rate, with 58.3% of adopting communities meeting implementation fidelity, and 91.7% of communities maintaining TSSC. TSSC improved FV consumption and PA engagement behaviors among low-income Latinos region wide. CHW delivery and implementation funding positively influenced reach, effectiveness, adoption, and maintenance, while lack of qualified CHWs negatively impacted fidelity. Full article
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10 pages, 319 KiB  
Article
Reallocating Time Spent in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Its Association with Fear of Falling: Isotemporal Substitution Model
by Pengfei Ren, Xianliang Zhang, Litao Du, Yang Pan, Si Chen and Qiang He
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2938; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052938 - 3 Mar 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2511
Abstract
The aim of the current study was to provide new evidence for the associations between physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), and fear of falling (FOF) by investigating the impact of replacing 30 min SB with both light-intensity PA (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous PA [...] Read more.
The aim of the current study was to provide new evidence for the associations between physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), and fear of falling (FOF) by investigating the impact of replacing 30 min SB with both light-intensity PA (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) on FOF in older Chinese women. Cross-sectional data from a Physical Activity and Health in Older Women Study (PAHIOWS) were analyzed for 1114 Chinese community-dwelling older women. Variables of focus were demographics, FOF, objectively measured PA and SB. Three different logistic models were used to examine the associations between PA, SB, and FOF (a single parameter model, a partition model and an isotemporal substitution). The results showed that reallocating 30 min/day of MVPA by SB was significantly associated with higher FOF (OR = 1.37; 95%CI: 1.04–1.79; p = 0.024), reallocating 30 min/day of SB by MVPA was significantly associated with a reduction of FOF (OR = 0.73; 95%CI: 0.56–0.96; p = 0.024). No significant associations were found between FOF with reallocating other activities by LPA and vice versa (p > 0.05). Subgroup analysis showed the isotemporal-substituted effects of MVPA and SB on FOF were stronger in older women with fall experience. In conclusion, the current findings showed that the increase of MVPA engagement and reduction of SB engagement may be most beneficial for FOF management and should be involved in public health guidelines, especially for older women with fall experience. Full article
13 pages, 362 KiB  
Article
Early Care and Education Center Environmental Factors Associated with Product- and Process-Based Locomotor Outcomes in Preschool-Age Children
by Jacob Szeszulski, Elizabeth Lorenzo, Michael Todd, Teresia M. O’Connor, Jennie Hill, Gabriel Q. Shaibi, Sonia Vega-López, Matthew P. Buman, Steven P. Hooker and Rebecca E. Lee
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(4), 2208; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19042208 - 15 Feb 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1897
Abstract
Environmental characteristics of early care and education centers (ECECs) are an important context for preschool-aged children’s development, but few studies have examined their relationship with children’s locomotor skills. We examined the association between characteristics of the ECEC environment with quantitatively (i.e., product-based) and [...] Read more.
Environmental characteristics of early care and education centers (ECECs) are an important context for preschool-aged children’s development, but few studies have examined their relationship with children’s locomotor skills. We examined the association between characteristics of the ECEC environment with quantitatively (i.e., product-based) and qualitatively (i.e., process-based) measured locomotor skills, using the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) and the locomotor portion of the Children’s Activity and Movement in Preschool Study (CHAMPS) motor skills protocol (CMSP), respectively. ECEC characteristics included outdoor and indoor play environment quality, outdoor and indoor play equipment, screen-time environment quality, and policy environment quality. Mean (SD) scores for the PACER (n = 142) and CSMP (n = 91) were 3.7 ± 2.3 laps and 19.0 ± 5.5 criteria, respectively, which were moderately correlated with each other (Pearson r = 0.5; p < 0.001). Linear regression models revelated that a better policy environment score was associated with fewer PACER laps. Better outdoor play and screen-time environment quality scores and more outdoor play equipment were positively associated with higher CMSP scores. ECEC environments that reflect best practice guidelines may be opportunities for locomotor skills development in preschool-aged children. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03261492 (8/25/17). Full article
14 pages, 626 KiB  
Article
Usage of Digital Health Tools and Perception of mHealth Intervention for Physical Activity and Sleep in Black Women
by Yue Liao and Kyrah K. Brown
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1557; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031557 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3228
Abstract
Black women of reproductive age are disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions and related disease risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity. Health promotion studies need to focus on this population since optimizing preconception health will lead to improvement of both birth [...] Read more.
Black women of reproductive age are disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions and related disease risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity. Health promotion studies need to focus on this population since optimizing preconception health will lead to improvement of both birth outcomes and the woman’s long-term health. mHealth interventions that utilize wearable sensors to provide personalized and timely feedback can be used to promote physical activity (PA). This study aimed to examine Black women’s wearable sensor usage and their perceptions about future mHealth interventions that target PA and sleep. Our analysis included 497 Black women (aged 18–47 years) who completed a cross-sectional online survey. Ninety-two percent of participants did not meet the recommended level of PA, and 32.3% reported poor sleep quality. More participants indicated interest in a remote PA program (77%) than an in-person one (73%). More than half of participants indicated interest in receiving personalized feedback messages based on wearable trackers about PA (58.1%) and sleep (63.5%). This perceived acceptability of remote intervention and wearable-based feedback messages did not differ by socioeconomic status. Remotely delivered mHealth interventions that utilize wearables can be a viable behavioral change strategy to promote PA and sleep quality in Black women. Full article
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14 pages, 330 KiB  
Article
Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Programming in Schools to Support Student’s Health-Related Fitness: An Observational Study
by Timothy J. Walker, Derek W. Craig, Andjelka Pavlovic, Shelby Thiele, Breanna Natale, Jacob Szeszulski, Laura F. DeFina and Harold W. Kohl III
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11069; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111069 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2393
Abstract
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommend schools use a coordinated health approach to support healthy eating and physical activity. This study examines whether the number of healthy eating and physical activity programs and activities used by schools and their perceived success relate [...] Read more.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommend schools use a coordinated health approach to support healthy eating and physical activity. This study examines whether the number of healthy eating and physical activity programs and activities used by schools and their perceived success relate to students’ health-related fitness. This observational study used data from the Healthy Zone Schools Program. Data (collected in 2017–2019) were integrated from three sources: (1) school surveys, (2) FitnessGram®, and (3) the Texas Education Agency. Independent variables were the number of health promotion programs and activities and their perceived success; dependent variables were meeting Healthy Fitness Zone Standards (HFZ) for aerobic capacity and body mass index (BMI). We used mixed-effects logistic regression models. Fifty-six schools were in the analytic sample (n = 15,096 students with aerobic capacity data and n = 19,969 with BMI data). Results indicated the perceived success of physical activity programs/activities was significantly associated with students meeting HFZ standards for aerobic capacity (OR = 1.32, CI = 1.06–1.63). There was a significant direct association between the number of physical activity and healthy eating activities implemented (OR = 1.04, CI = 1.01–1.06) and students meeting HFZ for BMI. Schools using multiple health programs and activities need to balance the number provided with their capacity to maintain success. Full article

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16 pages, 848 KiB  
Protocol
Sustainability via Active Garden Education: The Sustainability Action Plan Model and Process
by Rebecca E. Lee, Jacob Szeszulski, Elizabeth Lorenzo, Anel Arriola, Meg Bruening, Paul A. Estabrooks, Jennie L. Hill, Teresia M. O’Connor, Gabriel Q. Shaibi, Erica G. Soltero and Michael Todd
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 5511; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095511 - 1 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3952
Abstract
Sustainability of intervention programming is challenging to achieve under real world conditions, since few models exist and many studies do not plan far beyond the funding period. Programming content in early care and education centers (ECECs) is often driven by guidelines. However, implementation [...] Read more.
Sustainability of intervention programming is challenging to achieve under real world conditions, since few models exist and many studies do not plan far beyond the funding period. Programming content in early care and education centers (ECECs) is often driven by guidelines. However, implementation is very sensitive to contextual factors, such as the setting and implementer (teacher) characteristics. This paper presents the model, definitions, and methodology used for the sustainability action plan capitalizing on a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, developed for a multi-site, multi-level garden-based childhood obesity prevention study, Sustainability via Active Garden Education (SAGE). The Ecologic Model of Obesity is applied to develop a sustainability action plan (SAP) and accompanying measures to link early care and education (ECE) environment, the community, policies, and classroom practices to an early childhood obesity prevention program. The SAGE SAP provides an example of how to iteratively evaluate and refine sustainability processes for an obesity prevention intervention utilizing CBPR approaches and will be applied to assess the sustainability of SAGE in a cluster randomized controlled trial. This SAP model can also help inform intervention delivery and scalability within ECECs. Full article
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