Support-is-key-to-being-active-for-many-in-New-Orleans

Support is key to being active for many in New Orleans

In New Orleans, having people in your life who directly encourage you to exercise and be active may be the most important thing you need to stay fit, according to a new study from the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC).

The study, published online in the Journal of Community Health this March, aims to identify what helps black residents be active because this segment of the population tends to be the least physically active, compared to other racial or ethnic groups. National experts recommend all adults have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Researchers from the Tulane PRC conducted a household survey in 2006, interviewing nearly 500 people about their activity levels in three low-income, primarily African American neighborhoods in New Orleans.

The interviews revealed that people who have friends, family and doctors that specifically encourage them to be active and exercise – versus general encouragement and support – tend to meet recommended physical activity levels. The study also found that black men are 2.17 times more likely to be active than black women.

"These findings suggest that people who need more physical activity should look to their social network, including family members, friends, and physicians, for support specifically for being active," said Lori Andersen, the lead author on the study and a PhD graduate from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, who has worked with the Tulane PRC since 2011. "We believe it also shows the importance of tailoring encouragement to the person, especially making sure women are encouraged to do the types of exercises and activities that they want to do."

The surveys were part of a community-based project called Partnership for an Active Community Environment (PACE), which also included a study on the impact of a new walking path that the Tulane PRC helped build in 2007 on the St. Roch Avenue neutral ground. The PACE project was led by a partnership of researchers from the Tulane PRC, residents from neighborhoods, and representatives from local community organizations.

To read the study’s findings in the Journal of Community Health, click here.

By Naomi King Englar

Topics:   community health , physical activity , health communication , policy , running , walking

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