Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor

Rodney Lyn

Second Advisor

Matthew Hayat

Third Advisor

Michael Pratt

Fourth Advisor

Olga Lucia Sarmiento

Fifth Advisor

Deborah Salvo


Physical inactivity is a leading cause of death worldwide and contributes significantly to the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Physical inactivity has become a global pandemic with the highest prevalence in the region of the Americas. There is strong evidence on the effectiveness of community-based PA interventions, including behavioral and social interventions, campaigns and informational approaches, and policy and environmental modifications to increase physical activity at the population level. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the impact of two types of community-based interventions to promote leisure-time physical activity using public spaces and their applicability and transferability from the Latin American to the US context. Specifically, three programs were examined: (1) Atlanta Streets Alive (ASA) (the Open Streets initiative inspired by the Bogota Ciclovia, hosted in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, US); (2) the Bogota Recreovia (free PA classes in community settings in the city of Bogota, Colombia); and, (3) Academia Fit (the PA-classes in community settings program adapted from the Brazilian ACP for Latino Communities in San Diego, California, US). This dissertation shows different assessment approaches including a descriptive study, a pre-post natural experiment with multiple control groups, and a translation and implementation study using an evidence-based approach such as the RE-AIM framework.

Some of the overall findings include: community-based interventions implemented in public spaces such as Open Streets and PA-classes are promising for increasing moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) on leisure-time within the communities where they are implemented. Besides, these interventions are effective to reach vulnerable populations including low income, women and ethnic minorities such as Hispanics in the US. Finally, the implementation of an Open Streets initiative and a free PA-classes program was feasible (applicable) in Atlanta, GA, in the US and San Diego, CA, respectively.