Purpose: To examine associations between perceived neighborhood characteristics, access to places for activity, and leisure-time physical activity.
Design: Cross-sectional telephone survey.
Setting: Cabarrus, Henderson, Pitt, Robeson, Surry, and Wake counties in North Carolina.
Subjects: Population-based sample of 1796 adults at least 18 years of age residing in the six counties.
Measures: The 133-item questionnaire assessed self-reported leisure-time physical activity and perceptions of neighborhood characteristics (sidewalks, trails, heavy traffic, streetlights, unattended dogs, and safety from crime) and general access to places for physical activity.
Results: Trails, streetlights, and access to places were positively associated with engaging in any leisure activity: unadjusted odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval [CI]); 1.62 (1.09-2.41), 1.57 (1.14-2.17), and 2.94 (1.91-4.52), respectively. Trails and access to places were positively associated with engaging in the recommended amount of leisure activity: 1.49 (1.00-2.22), and 2.28 (1.30-4.00), respectively). In multivariable logistic regression modeling including environmental factors and demographics, access to places was associated with any activity (2.23 [1.44-3.44]) and recommended activity (2.15 [1.23-3.77]), and trails were associated with recommended activity (1.51 [1.00-2.28]).
Conclusion: Certain neighborhood characteristics, particularly trails, and access to places for physical activity may be associated with leisure activity levels. In this study, perceived neighborhood environmental factors and access to places for physical activity were strongly associated with race, education, and income.