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.

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 in at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity on three or more of the past seven days compared to 69% nationally. One of the factors affecting physical activity is the built environment, but this relationship is not perfectly understood.

The Lafitte Greenway Evaluation project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research Network, is working to evaluate the impact of the undeveloped three-mile Lafitte Greenway on the physical activity of residents of surrounding neighborhoods. The project has three components: physical activity observations, neighborhood environmental audits and a school survey of self-reported physical activity and perception of home neighborhood environment of high school students. All baseline data has been collected in anticipation of being able to compare it to identical data collected after the Greenway has been built. In addition, the physical activity observations and environmental audits will be compared to see if it is possible to isolate what elements of the built environment have strong relationships with different rates of physical activity. The school survey will be analyzed to see if there is any relationship between a student’s residence being near a public green space and that student’s rates of or attitudes towards physical activity.

Click here for the abstract (page 104) on the Greenway Evaluation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Meeting.

Principal Investigator: Jeanette Gustat, PhD, MPH

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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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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Featured Publications


Physical Activity


Data to action: using formative research to develop intervention programs to increase physical activity in adolescent girls.


Built Environment


Urban residents' priorities for neighborhood features. A survey of New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina

all scientific publications




What Do New Orleans Residents Want in Their Neighborhoods?


Policy Briefs


A Question of Access: Addressing Poor Nutrition, Food Availability, and Policy

all prc publications