Date of Award

Winter 12-13-2017

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Hayat, PhD, Associate Professor Division of Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Second Advisor

Mrs. Karen Rados, MS, Research Director Cancer Treatment Centers of America


INTRODUCTION: Adults engage in walking and other physical activity for a variety of reasons. Previous research has shown that neighborhood characteristics play a role in the decision-making process to walk or participate in physical activity in one’s local neighborhood. Neighborhood characteristics may include access and nearby availability to sidewalks, paths, trails, markets, libraries, theaters, public transportation, and parks.

AIMS: The purpose of this work is to examine the association between neighborhood characteristics and participation in physical activity

METHODS: The 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data was used. Participant data consisted of demographics and measures of physical activity. Neighborhood characteristics included accessibility and nearby availability of convenient walking spaces. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models were used. Sampling weights were considered in the analysis, with comparisons made between unweighted and weighted results. The SAS SURVEY procedures were explored.

RESULTS: The total study sample was comprised of 33,672 participants. Weighted results showed 8,103 (238%) were physically active and participant characteristics included 51.8% female and 64.9% White/Caucasian. The weighted mean age was 47.1 years with a mean body mass index of 30.5. The majority of participants reported having trails/paths (85.1%) and parks (71.8%) available nearby and most reported walking for leisure or transportation (62.6%). Having trails/paths available nearby was associated with being physically active (OR 1.21 95% CI: [1.03,1.42], p=0.0245), as well as having places of entertainment like libraries or theaters (OR 1.18 95% CI: [1.08,1.30], p=0.0006). Parks being available to the participants also showed an association (OR 1.24 95% CI: [1.11,1.38], p=0.0002).

DISCUSSION: Neighborhood characteristics associated with physical activity included others walking in and around the neighborhood, paths and trail availability, shops/markets, libraries/theaters, and having parks or a place to relax nearby. These study results may be useful to decision-makers about what to build in and around neighborhoods for improved health of those communities.