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Physical Activity and Public Health: Addressing Gaps in Research for Special Population Subgroups

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2022) | Viewed by 31607

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Kinesiology Department, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Interests: physical activity and obesity epidemiology; associations between lifestyle behaviors, obesity, and cardiometabolic risk

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Assistant Guest Editor
Institute for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Aurora, CO 80014, USA
Interests: health disparities; social determinants and neighborhood environment on development of chronic disease with a focus on cardiovascular health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The World Health Organization (WHO) updated physical activity and sedentary behavior guidelines in November 2020. These revised guidelines emphasize physical activity across the lifespan, and, for the first time, address recommendations in special population subgroups, such as people living with chronic conditions and disability. Despite these updates, the WHO acknowledges gaps in knowledge and states: “The most common need cited is more research on the dose-response relationship between volume and/or intensity of physical activity and health outcomes. Such information is key to establishing minimal effective doses and maximum safety thresholds of physical activity for different population subgroups” (pg. 1461, Bull et al., 2020). The guidelines also highlight the need to incorporate international social norms, and cultural and contextual factors to guide future physical activity promotion and intervention efforts for these special population subgroups. Ultimately, addressing these gaps can build evidence to shape future guidelines specifically tailored to special population subgroups in order to increase physical activity and improve health.

Original submissions to be considered for publication in this Special Issue may address physical activity in international special population subgroups including (but not limited to) people living with chronic disease/conditions and/or disability, as well as underserved, under-resourced, economically disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized populations (e.g., poverty, uninsured, racial/ethnic groups, immigrants/migrants, religious groups, rural communities, etc.). Research may address patterns or change in physical activity in special population subgroups, including the relationship of physical activity to chronic disease/disability or other health behaviors/outcomes, and/or barriers or facilitators for physical activity participation, among other themes and topics relating to physical activity and public health. Research can involve reviews, secondary data analyses, or original data collection with interventions, cross-sectional, observational, and longitudinal studies. We will also consider commentaries and concept papers. Studies utilizing quantitative and/or qualitative research will be considered. 

Dr. Sarah M. Camhi
Dr. Morgan N. Clennin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • physical activity
  • public health/epidemiology
  • physical activity guidelines
  • health behavior
  • chronic conditions/disease
  • disability
  • race/ethnicity
  • underserved, economically disadvantaged, marginalized or vulnerable populations
  • cultural/social context
  • dose-response
  • population health

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 1545 KiB  
Article
Racial Differences in Blood Pressure and Autonomic Recovery Following Acute Supramaximal Exercise in Women
by Nicole Bajdek, Noelle Merchant, Sarah M. Camhi and Huimin Yan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(9), 5615; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20095615 - 23 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1432
Abstract
Despite the growing popularity of high-intensity anaerobic exercise, little is known about the acute effects of this form of exercise on cardiovascular hemodynamics or autonomic modulation, which might provide insight into the individual assessment of responses to training load. The purpose of this [...] Read more.
Despite the growing popularity of high-intensity anaerobic exercise, little is known about the acute effects of this form of exercise on cardiovascular hemodynamics or autonomic modulation, which might provide insight into the individual assessment of responses to training load. The purpose of this study was to compare blood pressure and autonomic recovery following repeated bouts of acute supramaximal exercise in Black and White women. A convenience sample of twelve White and eight Black young, healthy women were recruited for this study and completed two consecutive bouts of supramaximal exercise on the cycle ergometer with 30 min of recovery in between. Brachial and central aortic blood pressures were assessed by tonometry (SphygmoCor Xcel) at rest and 15-min and 30-min following each exercise bout. Central aortic blood pressure was estimated using brachial pressure waveforms and customized software. Autonomic modulation was measured in a subset of ten participants by heart-rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity. Brachial mean arterial pressure and diastolic blood pressure were significantly higher in Blacks compared to Whites across time (race effect, p = 0.043 and p = 0.049, respectively). Very-low-frequency and low-frequency bands of heart rate variability, which are associated with sympathovagal balance and vasomotor tone, were 22.5% and 24.9% lower, respectively, in Blacks compared to Whites (race effect, p = 0.045 and p = 0.006, respectively). In conclusion, the preliminary findings of racial differences in blood pressure and autonomic recovery following supramaximal exercise warrant further investigations of tailored exercise prescriptions for Blacks and Whites. Full article
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11 pages, 317 KiB  
Article
Role of Environmental Quality of Life in Physical Activity Status of Individuals with and without Physical Disabilities in Saudi Arabia
by Aqeela Zahra, Muhammad Shehzad Hassan, Jae-Hyun Park, Sehar-un-Nisa Hassan and Nuzhat Parveen
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 4228; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074228 - 1 Apr 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2327
Abstract
The promotion of physical activity (PA) in various subgroups of the population such as people with physical disabilities has been spotlighted in the revised guidelines of The World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland. In order to update public health interventions, there is a [...] Read more.
The promotion of physical activity (PA) in various subgroups of the population such as people with physical disabilities has been spotlighted in the revised guidelines of The World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland. In order to update public health interventions, there is a need to identify factors that may promote or prevent engagement in PA for special subgroups of the population. This study aims to calculate the PA levels of individuals with and without physical disabilities in Saudi Arabia, their assessment of the environmental (EQoL), and the predictive role of EQoL in PA. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and the EQoL domain in standardized WHOQoL Questionnaire were administered on both groups of the population. The study sample comprised 116 individuals with physical disabilities and 243 individuals without any form of disability as a control group. A regression analysis was performed to analyze the predictors of PA in both groups. Findings showed that among the individuals with disabilities, older people were more likely to engage in PA as compared to the younger age group (p < 0.05) and males were significantly less likely to meet the PA criteria. Some of the EQoL features such as safety increased the likelihood of PA up to 2.3 times (p < 0.05) in individuals with physical disabilities. In addition, opportunities for leisure activities were a significant predictor of PA among both groups of individuals with and without physical disabilities (p < 0.05). Our findings suggest that upcoming public health interventions should focus on improving various dimensions of EQoL for the promotion of physical activity among individuals with physical disabilities. Additional studies are needed to further explore various sociodemographic and environmental factors which can affect the PA status of disabled groups. Full article
9 pages, 504 KiB  
Article
Physical Activity Levels and Screen Time among Youth with Overweight/Obesity Using Mental Health Services
by Gerald J. Jerome, Tyler Fink, Tammy Brady, Deborah R. Young, Faith B. Dickerson, Stacy Goldsholl, Robert L. Findling, Ekaterina A. Stepanova, Ann Scheimann, Arlene T. Dalcin, Alison Terry, Joseph Gennusa, Courtney Cook, Gail L. Daumit and Nae-Yuh Wang
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(4), 2261; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19042261 - 17 Feb 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5337
Abstract
Youth with mental illness have higher levels of obesity than children in the general population. Both regular physical activity and limited screen time have been recommended to reduce and prevent childhood obesity. This study examines accelerometer-based moderate–vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and screen time [...] Read more.
Youth with mental illness have higher levels of obesity than children in the general population. Both regular physical activity and limited screen time have been recommended to reduce and prevent childhood obesity. This study examines accelerometer-based moderate–vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and screen time among youth with overweight/obesity issues who are receiving mental health care. This study looked at a 12-month weight management randomized clinical trial for overweight/obese youth aged 8–18 years who are receiving mental health services. At baseline, MVPA was assessed using accelerometers, and screen time was self-reported. Among 100 youth, 43% were female, 44% were Black, and 48% were <13 years old. In an adjusted general linear model, higher levels of MVPA were associated with the younger age group (p = 0.012), male participants (p = 0.013), and lower BMI z-scores (p = 0.014). In a separate model, higher screen time was associated with participants who were Black (p = 0.007). Achieving optimal cardiovascular health at the population level requires an understanding of the groups that are most in need of additional assistance. These data reinforce that targeted lifestyle approaches to promote increased physical activity and decreased screen time among overweight/obese youth using mental health services may need additional tailoring for sex, age, and race subgroups. Full article
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12 pages, 340 KiB  
Article
Relationship between Physical Activity and the Metabolic, Inflammatory Axis in Pregnant Participants
by Adeline Bockler, Nina Ferrari, Clara Deibert, Anne Flöck, Waltraut M. Merz, Ulrich Gembruch, Christina Ehrhardt, Jörg Dötsch and Christine Joisten
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13160; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413160 - 14 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2287
Abstract
Physical activity (PA) during pregnancy is beneficial for mother and child. Little is known regarding the effects of PA on specific adipokines/myokines and their impact during pregnancy. This study investigates the correlation between PA during late pregnancy, body composition, and maternal levels of [...] Read more.
Physical activity (PA) during pregnancy is beneficial for mother and child. Little is known regarding the effects of PA on specific adipokines/myokines and their impact during pregnancy. This study investigates the correlation between PA during late pregnancy, body composition, and maternal levels of leptin, IL-6, and TNF-α at delivery. In a cross-sectional study of 91 pregnant participants (mean age 33.9 ± 4.6 years) without gestational diabetes mellitus or preeclampsia, anthropometric data and blood samples were taken at delivery. PA during the third trimester was measured via the Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire. Activities were ranked by intensity: sedentary (<1.5 metabolic equivalent (METs)), light (1.5–3.0 METs), moderate (3.0–6.0 METs), and vigorous activity (>6.0 METs). Leptin at delivery correlated positively with body composition and negatively with light PA intensity. Sedentary behaviour showed a positive correlation with IL-6 levels at delivery. Moderate activity during the last trimester, sedentary activity levels, and body composition had the greatest influence on maternal IL-6 at delivery. Completed weeks of pregnancy, moderate and light PA, and sedentary activity had the greatest influence on maternal TNF-α at delivery. PA during late pregnancy potentially affects circulating (adipo-)/myokines. Further studies are needed to examine causal relationships and the impact on maternal and new-born health. Full article
13 pages, 752 KiB  
Article
School-Level Economic Disparities in Police-Reported Crimes and Active Commuting to School
by Katie Burford, Leigh Ann Ganzar, Kevin Lanza, Harold W. Kohl III and Deanna M. Hoelscher
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(20), 10885; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182010885 - 16 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2394
Abstract
Perceived safety remains one of the main barriers for children to participate in active commuting to school (ACS). This ecological study examined the associations between the number of police-reported crimes in school neighborhoods and ACS. The percentage of active travel trips was assessed [...] Read more.
Perceived safety remains one of the main barriers for children to participate in active commuting to school (ACS). This ecological study examined the associations between the number of police-reported crimes in school neighborhoods and ACS. The percentage of active travel trips was assessed from a teacher tally survey collected from students across 63 elementary schools that were primarily classified as high-poverty (n = 27). Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to create a detailed measure of police-reported crimes during 2018 and neighborhood covariates that occurred within a one-mile Euclidean buffer of the schools. Statistical analyses included linear fixed effects regressions and negative binomial regressions. In fully-adjusted models, reported crime did not exhibit significant associations with ACS. Medium-poverty schools were indirectly associated with ACS when compared to high- and low-poverty schools in all models (p < 0.05). Connectivity and vehicle ownership were also directly associated with ACS (p < 0.05). Low- and medium-poverty schools were indirectly associated with all types of reported crime when compared to high-poverty schools (p < 0.05). Although reported crime was not associated with school-level ACS, differences in ACS and reported crime do exist across school poverty levels, suggesting a need to develop and promote safe and equitable ACS interventions. Full article
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16 pages, 2460 KiB  
Article
Scaling Up a Community-Based Exercise Program for Women in Difficult Life Situations in Germany—The BIG Project as a Case-Study
by Annika Herbert-Maul, Karim Abu-Omar, Anna Streber, Zsuzsanna Majzik, Jeanette Hefele, Stephanie Dobslaw, Hedi Werner, Alexandra Wolf and Anne K. Reimers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9432; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189432 - 7 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2596
Abstract
Scaling up community-based participatory research (CBPR) remains challenging. This case-study reports on how, and under which conditions, a CBPR project aiming at promoting exercise among socially disadvantaged women (BIG) scaled up at four project sites. As part of BIG, researchers support city administrations [...] Read more.
Scaling up community-based participatory research (CBPR) remains challenging. This case-study reports on how, and under which conditions, a CBPR project aiming at promoting exercise among socially disadvantaged women (BIG) scaled up at four project sites. As part of BIG, researchers support city administrations in implementing a participatory project to reach socially disadvantaged women for exercise. The case study was conducted in winter 2020 in southern Germany and is based on a co-creative process involving city administrators and researchers. Following Kohl and Cooley’s scaling up dimensions, scaling up BIG was investigated at the four sites using a mixed-method approach. Course registrations and offers were analysed, and qualitative interviews (n = 4) with administrative staff members were conducted and analysed using content analysis. The geographical coverage of exercise classes, the addressed groups, and the utilisation of participatory methods by city administrations are described. All four sites managed to scale-up project activities. Three of the four sites reported that further growth of the project was no longer possible due to limited resources. All sites attempted to reach a larger number of, and more diverse, women. One site managed to scale-up the use of participatory methods within the city administration. The following important facilitators for scaling up CBPR projects were reported: advertisements tailored to the needs of the addressed women, utilising participatory approaches, and equipping project coordinators with sufficient resources. Full article
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14 pages, 356 KiB  
Article
Comparability of The Netherlands Physical Activity Questionnaire with Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity in Samoan Children: A Retrospective Analysis of Ola Tuputupua’e Data
by Clara R. Warmath, Courtney C. Choy, Elizabeth A. Frame, Lauren B. Sherar, Rachel L. Duckham, Christina Soti-Ulberg, Take Naseri, Muagututia S. Reupena and Nicola L. Hawley
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8438; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168438 - 10 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1880
Abstract
Accurate measurement of physical activity is critical to understand its role in cardiometabolic health and obesity development in children and to monitor trends in behavior and evaluate interventions. An ongoing mixed-longitudinal study of child growth and development in Samoa is collecting physical activity [...] Read more.
Accurate measurement of physical activity is critical to understand its role in cardiometabolic health and obesity development in children and to monitor trends in behavior and evaluate interventions. An ongoing mixed-longitudinal study of child growth and development in Samoa is collecting physical activity data with both accelerometers and the Netherlands Physical Activity Questionnaire (NPAQ). The aims of our analyses were to (1) describe the response frequency and correlations of individual questions in the NPAQ, (2) develop modified NPAQ scores with selected questions and (3) examine the concordance of modified NPAQ scores with accelerometer outcomes among children aged 2–4 years. We developed two modified NPAQ scores with combinations of questions and assessed concordance of the modified scores with accelerometer data using estimated marginal means adjusted for monitor wear time. Although the evenly distributed tertiles of the modified 15-point NPAQ score showed promising trends of increasing minutes of accelerometer-assessed high-intensity physical activity with increasing tertile, the estimated marginal means were imprecise with high variance, demonstrating that NPAQ score could not accurately assess physical activity levels of preschool-aged children in Samoa. Considering that questionnaires are often considered more cost-effective tools for physical activity measurement than accelerometry, further research is necessary to develop a culturally and age-appropriate physical activity questionnaire in this population. Full article

Review

Jump to: Research, Other

17 pages, 763 KiB  
Review
Physical Activity and Public Health among People with Disabilities: Research Gaps and Recommendations
by Gregory W. Heath and David Levine
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 10436; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191610436 - 22 Aug 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2774
Abstract
Physical activity has become an integral component of public health systems modeling the public health core functions of assessment, policy development, and assurance. However, people with disabilities have often not been included in public health efforts to assess, develop policies, or evaluate the [...] Read more.
Physical activity has become an integral component of public health systems modeling the public health core functions of assessment, policy development, and assurance. However, people with disabilities have often not been included in public health efforts to assess, develop policies, or evaluate the impact of physical activity interventions to promote health and prevent disease among people with disabilities. Addressing the core function of assessment, current physical activity epidemiology, and surveillance among people with disabilities across the globe highlights the paucity of surveillance systems that include physical activity estimates among people with disabilities. The status of valid and reliable physical activity measures among people with condition-specific disabilities is explored, including self-report measures along with wearable devices, and deficiencies in measurement of physical activity. The core functions of policy development and assurance are described in the context of community-based intervention strategies to promote physical activity among people with disabilities. The identification of research gaps in health behavior change, policy, and environmental approaches to promoting physical activity among people with disabilities is explored, along with recommendations based on the principles of inclusive and engaged research partnerships between investigators and the members of the disability community. Full article
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Other

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14 pages, 790 KiB  
Systematic Review
The Benefits of Physical Activity for People with Obesity, Independent of Weight Loss: A Systematic Review
by Rachele Pojednic, Emma D'Arpino, Ian Halliday and Amy Bantham
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 4981; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19094981 - 20 Apr 2022
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 8183
Abstract
Purposeful weight loss continues to be the primary focus for treating obesity. However, this strategy appears to be inadequate as obesity rates continue to rise and a myriad of benefits of physical activity that affect multiple health outcomes related to obesity and associated [...] Read more.
Purposeful weight loss continues to be the primary focus for treating obesity. However, this strategy appears to be inadequate as obesity rates continue to rise and a myriad of benefits of physical activity that affect multiple health outcomes related to obesity and associated comorbidities are not integrated into treatment strategies. There are emerging correlational data in individuals with obesity that demonstrate physical activity can be beneficial to many critical health markers, independent of weight loss or changes in BMI. This systematic review investigates interventional studies that examine health markers, independent of weight loss, in individuals with obesity. Fourteen studies were identified that utilized a variety of physical activity interventions with primary endpoints that included cellular, metabolic, systemic and brain health outcomes. The review of the literature demonstrates that for individuals with obesity, there are both small-scale and large-scale physiologic benefits that occur with increased physical activity of various modalities. Focusing on these benefits, rather than a narrow focus of weight loss alone, may increase physical activity behavior and health for individuals with obesity. Full article
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