Physical Activity Research

The Tulane PRC engages in a number of research projects related to physical activity and the built environment. Studies show that people are more likely to be active if their neighborhoods are walkable and bikeable. We also know that access to playgrounds, parks and recreational facilities are important means of promoting physical activity. At the Tulane PRC, we believe that people will be active if given a safe, dedicated space to do so.

Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN)


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN) in October of 2004 to study the effectiveness of health policies related to increasing physical activity in communities. The PAPRN was established as a thematic research network of the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) program, with funding from the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at CDC. The formally established network consists of four PRC member centers, one coordinating/member and CDC technical advisors. Several other PRCs have joined the network as affiliate member centers.

The mission of the Physical Activity Policy Research Network is to conduct transdisciplinary policy research by:

  • identifying physical activity policies
  • identifying the determinants of the policies
  • describing the process of implementing policies
  • determining the outcomes of physical activity policies

PAPRN Community Play Index

Numerous studies have found that unstructured or free play can increase physical activity for children and is essential to social, emotional, physiological and academic development. Children don’t have adequate time and space for play, especially those in low-income communities. A research project conducted by the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) showed that when low-income urban children were simply given a safe place to play during non-school hours, they used it in high numbers, were more physically active, and engaged in less sedentary behavior.

The Tulane PRC received funding from the Centers for Disease Control’s Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN) to create a community play index – a reliable survey instrument to assess the “playability” of a given public space. This tool will allow policy makers to assess the ‘playability’ of public playgrounds, schoolyards and open spaces. The index’s measures can be incorporated into design guidelines of parks and recreation departments, planning commissions or city departments when establishing benchmarks by which to measure city or regional health and physical activity.

Download the National Physical Activity Plan

Principal Investigator
Jeanette Gustat, PhD, MPH
Tulane University Prevention Research Center
(504) 988-1029

Other Related Projects


Health Impact of Bike Lanes in New Orleans, Louisiana

The epidemiology department in partnership with the Tulane Prevention Research Center was awarded a one-year, $150,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Rapid Response Grant to evaluate the impact of installing bike lanes in New Orleans on ridership. Approximately 45 miles of new bike lanes will be constructed on New Orleans streets linking residential neighborhoods to commercial corridors thanks to post-Katrina funding for resurfacing roads. Researchers will examine the impact of constructing bike lanes on cycling for…

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Louisiana Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program Evaluation study

Physical activity is a leading indicator of Healthy People 2010. Yet children and adolescents fall short of reaching recommended goals for daily physical activity, and the prevalence of obesity in children is rising rapidly. One way to increase the amount of activity children participate in is to promote walking and bicycling to school. The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program was designed to enable and encourage school-aged children to walk and bicycle to school, to…

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Lafitte Greenway Evaluation

Obesity is national health problem, and Louisiana is tied for the third-highest obesity rate in the United States. According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 17% of New Orleans youth are overweight, compared to 14% nationally. Levels of physical activity can be related to obesity, and youth in New Orleans were less likely to be physically active than those in the rest of the country: 45% of New Orleans youth had participated in at…

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Featured Publications


Nutrition and Food Availability


The Rationale behind Small Food Store Interventions in Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods: Insights from New Orleans 13




Targeting obesity to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and other co-morbidities in African American youth: a review of the literature and recommendations for prevention

all scientific publications




Rebuilding a Healthier New Orleans




Feel Good Guide

all prc publications

Physical Activity Research Health Journal