Your neighbourhood determines how much you exercise: study

March 18th, 2008 - 12:11 pm ICT by admin  


New York, March 18 (IANS) The neighbourhoods people live in can help inspire - or discourage - them to exercise and keep physically active, new research suggests. Residents of neighbourhoods with higher levels of poverty, lower education, and more women-headed families are less likely than others to exercise, according to the study by researchers at Ohio State University.

It’s not simply that poorer people are less likely to exercise, researchers say.

In fact, the study found that a person’s individual income was not as important as the neighbourhood he or she lived in for determining exercise levels, a university release said.

“We can’t encourage people to exercise more without looking at the neighbourhood environment in which they live,” said Christopher Browning, co-author of the study.

“Some people may have the personal resources and desire to exercise, but don’t live in a neighbourhood in which they feel comfortable to go outside for activities.”

The study found that neighbourhood context was more important for women than for men in determining how much they exercised.

The findings also showed that levels of trust among neighbours, perceived violence in the community, and beliefs that neighbours help each other, all contributed to how much people exercised in a specific community.

Taken together, the results show that a wide variety of social and economic factors outside of any individual’s control can impact physical activity, Browning said.

“Neighbourhoods where people do not trust each other or help each other and where violent crimes are prevalent may tend to push better-off people away - a process that leaves more people in poverty and deteriorating neighbourhood conditions,” Browning said.

“All of this leaves an environment that is not amenable to getting outside to exercise.”

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