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)


Past Project

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 (PRCs) 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 PAPRN 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

Click here for the PAPRN paper (2014) on perceptions of the built environment and support for local physical activity policies in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Click here for the presentation abstract on the PAPRN worksite wellness in hospitals project from the 2014 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting.
Click here. for the paper (2014) on perspectives of the National Physical Activity Plan in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review.

PAPRN Community Play Index – Current Project

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 Prevention Research Center (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
(504) 988-1029 or

Other Related Projects


Movin' for LIFE

The overall goal of the Movin’ for LIFE (Lasting Improvements for Fitness and Energy) project is to improve the health of residents by focusing on increasing health-related behaviors, such as healthy eating and being more physically active. Residents of the Upper and Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East will participate in the program. A variety of strategies will be used to promote active and healthy lifestyles. Lessons learned will be used to create a…

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Louisiana Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program

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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Health Impact of Bike Lanes in New Orleans, Louisiana

Past Project The epidemiology department in partnership with the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) 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…

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Lafitte Greenway Evaluation

Past Project 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…

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Featured Publications


Nutrition and Food Availability


Are School Employees Role Models of Healthful Eating? Dietary Intake Results from the ACTION Worksite Wellness Trial




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


Policy Briefs


Food Availability




Healthy Choice Brochure

all prc publications