Community Development Corporations Could Potentially Improve Research on Causal Associations Between Environmental Features and Physical Activity

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Journal of Physical Activity and Health


Background: Community development corporations (CDC) are worldwide entities that create environments facilitating physical activity. At the same time, researchers face challenges conducting cost-effective, longitudinal studies on how environmental changes affect physical activity.

Objective: To provide evidence suggesting that CDC initiatives could potentially be integrated into a research framework for examining the influence of environmental improvements on physical activity.

Methods: Quality of Life Plans (QLP) developed by a CDC and stakeholders from 6 lower-income neighborhoods were systematically reviewed to obtain data about environmental features targeted for change and the strategies used to bring about those changes. Strategies were deemed pro-physical activity if previous studies suggested they have the potential to affect physical activity.

Results: A total of 348 strategies were proposed of which 164 were pro-physical activity. Six environmental features were targeted including crime (57 strategies), aesthetics (39), facilities (30), walkability (17), destinations (14), and programs (5). Strategies involved implementing (90 strategies), planning (33), assessing (26), and securing funding (13). Progress reports indicated that 37.4% of the pro-physical activity strategies were implemented 1 year following the development of the QLPs.

Conclusions: These results suggest that activities of CDCs could potentially be systematically integrated into the scientific study of environmental influences on physical activity.



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