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Special Issue "Physical Activity Promotion for Reducing Health Disparities in Rural Communities"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Cynthia Perry
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA
Interests: community-based participatory research; physical activity promotion in rural communities to promote health equity, dissemination and implementation of evidence-based programs in rural communities
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Christiaan Abildso
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
School of Public Health, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 25606, USA
Interests: theory-based health promotion program evaluation; social ecological determinants of physical activity, especially in rural areas; pedestrian and bicyclist safety
Prof. Dr. M. Renée Umstattd Meyer
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798, USA
Interests: promoting health and health equity through an active living lens; using mixed method approaches to understand cultural context and advance approaches and policies to foster healthy and active opportunities and lifestyles for all people; partnering with underserved rural communities and families

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on the socio-ecological factors associated with physical activity and physical activity promotion in rural communities as a way to address health disparities.

Rural residents are not physically active enough to receive the health benefits from physical activity and they suffer disparities in chronic illness and cancers associated with physical inactivity. The socio-ecological model describes multiple interacting domains that impact physical activity, including individual, social/intrapersonal, community/environment (built and natural), and policy. Rural communities are diverse and experience challenges to promoting physical activity across all the socio-ecological domains. While there is a growing body of research examining the influences on physical activity and the impact on interventions designed to increase physical activity within and across these domains, more is needed to understand the effective approaches to promote physical activity and improve rural health and health disparities.

In this Special Issue, we invite researchers to submit high-quality empirical papers or systematical reviews related to the socio-ecological factors associated with physical activity and physical activity promotion, including multi-level interventions, in rural communities.

Prof. Dr. Cynthia Perry
Prof. Dr. Christiaan Abildso
Prof. Dr. M. Renée Umstattd Meyer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • physical activity
  • rural
  • socio-ecological model
  • interventions
  • health equity
  • policy
  • built environment

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Article
Environmental Factors Associated with Physical Activity in Rural U.S. Counties
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7688; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147688 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 273
Abstract
Background: Rural U.S. adults’ prevalence of meeting physical activity (PA) guidelines is lower than urban adults, yet rural-urban differences in environmental influences of adults’ PA are largely unknown. The study’s objective was to identify rural-urban variations in environmental factors associated with the prevalence [...] Read more.
Background: Rural U.S. adults’ prevalence of meeting physical activity (PA) guidelines is lower than urban adults, yet rural-urban differences in environmental influences of adults’ PA are largely unknown. The study’s objective was to identify rural-urban variations in environmental factors associated with the prevalence of adults meeting PA guidelines. Methods: County-level data for non-frontier counties (n = 2697) were used. A five-category rurality variable was created using the percentage of a county’s population living in a rural area. Factor scores from Factor Analyses (FA) were used in subsequent Multiple Linear Regression (MLR) analyses stratified by rurality to identify associations between environmental factor scores and the prevalence of males and females meeting PA guidelines. Results: FA revealed a 13-variable, four-factor structure of natural, social, recreation, and transportation environments. MLR revealed that natural, social, and recreation environments were associated with PA for males and females, with variation by sex for social environment. The natural environment was associated with PA in all but urban counties; the recreation environment was associated with PA in the urban counties and the two most rural counties. Conclusions: Variations across the rural-urban continuum in environmental factors associated with adults’ PA, highlight the uniqueness of rural PA and the need to further study what succeeds in creating active rural places. Full article
Article
Physical Activity Barriers and Assets in Rural Appalachian Kentucky: A Mixed-Methods Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7646; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147646 - 19 Jul 2021
Viewed by 318
Abstract
Obesity is an increasing public health concern in the U.S. and a contributor to chronic illness, with trends revealing a rise in adult obesity and chronic disease rates among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, including those in rural communities. A mixed-methods approach [...] Read more.
Obesity is an increasing public health concern in the U.S. and a contributor to chronic illness, with trends revealing a rise in adult obesity and chronic disease rates among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, including those in rural communities. A mixed-methods approach was used to examine perspectives on perceived physical activity barriers, resources, and level of community support. Researchers utilized the socioecological model to examine the multiple domains that support physical activity in rural Appalachia. The present study focuses on baseline data, including a cohort survey to assess physical activity, health status, and barriers to physical activity, and five focus groups with elected community leaders, community residents, members, and key stakeholders to assess perspectives on physical activity barriers and resources within the county. The cohort survey sample (N = 152) reported a median of 6 barriers (range 0–13) to participating in at least 30 min of physical activity daily. The qualitative analysis yielded three overarching themes related to physical activity participation: lack of motivation, physical environment, and cultural barriers. This mixed-methods study revealed the challenges and perceptions among rural residents across the socioecological model when assessing physical inactivity. Findings can be used to tailor future interventions focused on expanding social support, designing infrastructure, and creating policies that promote physical activity. Full article
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Article
A Cross-Sectional Comparison of Physical Activity during COVID-19 in a Sample of Rural and Non-Rural Participants in the US
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4991; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18094991 - 08 May 2021
Viewed by 795
Abstract
Physical activity (PA) pre-COVID-19 was lower in rural areas compared to non-rural areas. The purpose of this study was to determine COVID-19’s impact on PA in rural and non-rural residents. A cross-sectional study consisting of a convenience sample of 278 participants (50% rural, [...] Read more.
Physical activity (PA) pre-COVID-19 was lower in rural areas compared to non-rural areas. The purpose of this study was to determine COVID-19’s impact on PA in rural and non-rural residents. A cross-sectional study consisting of a convenience sample of 278 participants (50% rural, 50% non-rural) from 25 states completed an online survey describing their PA behaviors and perceptions during COVID-19. The global physical activity questionnaire was used to determine PA in various domains and summed to determine if the participant met the PA guidelines. Rural participants had a significantly higher body mass index, lower income, and a lower educational attainment. Conversely, non-rural participants reported more barriers to PA. There was no difference in the perception of COVID-19’s impact on PA, specifically; however, rural participants were significantly less likely to meet cardiorespiratory PA recommendations compared to non-rural participants. Conclusions: This study demonstrates the continued disparity in PA between rural and non-rural residents, despite the supposition of COVID-19 being less impactful in rural areas due to sparse populations. Efforts should be pursued to close the PA gap between rural and non-rural residents. Full article
Article
Papás Activos: Associations between Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Personal Networks among Fathers Living in Texas Colonias
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9243; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17249243 - 10 Dec 2020
Viewed by 627
Abstract
Despite growing health disparities in Latino populations related to lack of physical activity (PA), little is known regarding the impact of social networks on PA and sedentary behavior among a sample of Latino fathers residing in functionally rural colonias. Fathers wore accelerometers [...] Read more.
Despite growing health disparities in Latino populations related to lack of physical activity (PA), little is known regarding the impact of social networks on PA and sedentary behavior among a sample of Latino fathers residing in functionally rural colonias. Fathers wore accelerometers and responded to questions regarding their self-efficacy and characteristics of who they were active with most often. Fathers (n = 47) attained a mean of 73.3 min of moderate-to-vigorous PA (SD = 23.8) per day and were sedentary for a mean of 364.0 min (SD = 74.4) per day. In total, fathers reported 205 alters and significantly more family members (M = 3.60, SD = 1.64) than friends (M = 0.77, SD = 1.37). Sedentary time was positively associated with number of peers and inversely related to the number of children reported. Minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA was significantly associated with greater self-efficacy and number of family members reported. This study contributes to the evidence by further examining PA correlates of Latino fathers from functionally rural colonia communities. Additionally, this study supported both family systems theory and the socio–ecological model as it details the interpersonal and familial influences of PA behavior. Thus, supports for family activity promotion and programs which impact familial norms and activity at the family level may be particularly useful. Full article
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Project Report
Get Outside! Promoting Adolescent Health through Outdoor After-School Activity
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7223; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147223 - 06 Jul 2021
Viewed by 387
Abstract
Background: The Get Outside: After School Activity Program (GO-ASAP) exemplifies how a rural community can utilize its natural resources and community partnerships to promote adolescent health. Methods: A qualitative descriptive inquiry was conducted using convenience sampling. Data were collected from students (n [...] Read more.
Background: The Get Outside: After School Activity Program (GO-ASAP) exemplifies how a rural community can utilize its natural resources and community partnerships to promote adolescent health. Methods: A qualitative descriptive inquiry was conducted using convenience sampling. Data were collected from students (n = 13/2018; n = 13/2019) via focus group and art-based method (2018 only) and parent (n = 6/2018) focus group. Data were analyzed via qualitative content analysis using the applied theoretical frameworks of Social Cognitive Theory and Social Determination Theory. Results: (1) Increasing Health-Related Competencies. Students increased their physical activity, improved their sleep, perceived less stress, and reported changes in dietary habits and electronic use. (2) Increasing Social Relatedness. Students made new friends, felt more connected, and spent less time home alone after school. (3) Increasing Autonomy and Intrinsic Motivation. Students recognized their emerging capabilities, and their increased confidence stimulated more action-oriented behavior. Parent-perceived changes support and mirror student reports. Conclusion: Outdoor, nature-based, activity programs are a novel upstream approach to promote adolescent health, especially in rural communities where natural resources often exceed health-service resources and community partnerships are a way of life. Full article
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