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.

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 on cycling for both transportation and exercise through structured observations of cyclists and pedestrians using city streets before and after bike lanes are constructed. Intercept interviews of pedestrians and cyclists will also take place. Observations will take place in Lakeview, Mid-City, Uptown, Downtown and the Upper-Ninth Ward on streets that will be receiving bike lanes and other streets without planned bike-lane installation for comparison purposes.

Studies show people are more physically active in neighborhoods that are designed for walking and bicycling. New Orleans flat terrain and temperate climate make it ideal for year-round bike riding. Improvements in physical activity infrastructure could have a major positive impact on the health of New Orleanians, where 24.4 percent of adults and 28.6 percent of adults are categorized as obese or overweight respectively, according to the New Orleans 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Youth and adults in New Orleans were also less likely to be physically active than those in the rest of the country. With roughly 30 percent of New Orleans families lacking transportation, the opportunity to walk or bike to school and work is invaluable.

Click here for the paper (2013) on the Bike Lanes project in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Click here for the paper (2011) on the Bike Lanes project in the journal Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
Click here for the presentation on the Bike Lanes project at the 2012 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Principal Investigator: Jeanette Gustat, PhD MPH

Table Description: Proportion of all commuters who walk, bike, and take public transit in New Orleans vs. United States in 2007
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

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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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…

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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


Has the WIC incentive to formula-feed led to an increase in overweight children?


Nutrition and Food Availability


The Association between Obesity and Urban Food Environments, J Urban Health.

all scientific publications




What Do New Orleans Residents Want in Their Neighborhoods?


Policy Briefs


School Vending

all prc publications