Introduction: This study examined the association between perceptions of social and safety-related environmental attributes and physical activity (PA) and walking in African American and white adults.
Methods: In a random-digit-dial telephone survey, 1165 adults in a rural county in South Carolina answered questions about their perceptions of social and safety-related environmental supports for PA and their overall PA and walking behavior. Social perceptions included whether neighbors could be trusted or were perceived to be physically active. Safety-related perceptions included neighborhood safety, the safety of public recreation facilities, problems with unattended dogs, traffic volume, and streetlight quality. Logistic regression models were used to examine the associations between environmental supports and PA and walking stratified by race.
Results: No association between perceived neighborhood environmental supports and PA or walking was observed in African Americans. Among whites, individuals who perceived their neighbors as active were twice (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.19-3.25) as likely to report meeting the recommendation for PA compared with individuals who did not report their neighbors as active. Whites who perceived their neighbors as active were 2.5 times (95% CI, 1.54-4.08) as likely to report meeting the recommendations for walking than whites who did not, and whites who perceived their neighborhoods as safe were 1.8 times (95% CI, 1.03-3.12) as likely to report meeting the recommendations for walking than whites who did not.
Conclusion: These data indicate that perceptions of certain social and safety-related environmental supports were strongly associated with meeting the recommendations for PA and walking among white but not African American adults.