Barriers And The Built Environment: An Assessment Of Physical Activity In Rural Appalachia

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hannah Parkhurst (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Adam Hege

Abstract: INTRODUCTION: Physical activity is an important component of health and well-being. It is widely accepted that integrating regular activity into daily life can help lower the risk of developing chronic diseases. Rural populations such as Appalachia suffer from higher rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes due to physical inactivity. There is limited available research on rural Appalachian communities and the underlying causes of their disproportionate rates of chronic diseases and low activity levels.METHODS: This study utilized the Rural Active Living Assessment (RALA) town-wide and street segment features to put quantitative values on physical activity-promoting amenities and features in 16 rural towns in North Carolina. Each town had a population of around 5,000 residents or less.RESULTS: Analysis of each town-wide assessment revealed the diversity that exists even across rural towns of the same region. Overall, the areas that needed most improvement were the water activities domain and presence of skating rinks or parks. The parks and playground domain scored the best. Specific to street segments, high variability in sidewalk presence and condition was the greatest barrier to active transport.CONCLUSIONS: The physical activity-promoting features and amenities that rural communities in North Carolina have to offer vary greatly across town borders. Further research should focus on specific policies and programs in place that hinder or promote the use of such recreational facilities. Future interventions should focus first on improving opportunities for activity in central town areas, and then address the issue of connecting scattered residential zones to make all parts of these towns completely accessible.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Parkhurst, H. (2017). "Barriers And The Built Environment: An Assessment Of Physical Activity In Rural Appalachia." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2017
physical activity, Appalachia, built environment, rural

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