Perceptions of Neighborhood and Physical Activity: Findings From the Houston Train Study

Samantha Kreis, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Purpose: To examine the associations of perceptions of neighborhood and total physical activity, leisure time physical activity (LTPA) and transportation physical activity (TPA) and explore the potential modifying role of sex, race/ethnicity and age. Methods: Data were obtained from the Houston Travel Related Activity In Neighborhoods (TRAIN) study, a prospective cohort study examining the impact of the addition of a light rail in Houston on physical activity. Perceptions of the neighborhood were measured using a self-administered questionnaire adapted from the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit study. Total physical activity was measured using the ActiGraph GT3X+ tri-axial accelerometer. LTPA and TPA were measured using the self-administered Modifiable Activity Questionnaire (S-MAQ) questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were conducted on the sample. A multivariate analysis was done to examine the association of perceptions of neighborhood and physical activity modified by sex, race/ethnicity and age. Results: The majority of participants were women (58.9%) and black (38.1%); mean age was 50 (14.5) years old. In the entire analytic sample, participants who rated “connected bicycle routes” as being more important in their neighborhood was significantly related with total physical activity (B=1.14, 95% CI = -1.53 – 2.12; p = 0.02), LTPA (B= 2.25, 95% CI = 0.25 – 4.25; p = 0.03) and TPA (B= 0.83, 95% CI = 0.06 – 1.6; p=0.03). “Parks and open spaces” was found to be significantly associated with LTPA (B=2.54, 95% CI = 0.34 – 4.74; p=0.02). Individuals who scored “shopping areas within walking distance” as important had a positive significant association with TPA (B=1.68, 95% CI = -0.92 – 2.44; p=0.00). In addition, “good public transit service” was associated with increased TPA (B= 1.21, 95% CI = 0.27 – 2.14; p=0.01). Sex, race/ethnicity, and age group also modified the relations between perceptions of the neighborhood and self-reported and accelerometer derived physical activity. Conclusion: Based on the results of this study, future studies should consider the potential moderating role of sex, race, and age when examining the associations between perceptions of the neighborhood and physical activity. In addition, city planners should consider adding trails and bike lanes in current and future neighborhoods, as well as plan mixed-use developments to increase total physical activity, TPA and LTPA.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Kreis, Samantha, "Perceptions of Neighborhood and Physical Activity: Findings From the Houston Train Study" (2017). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10273759.