Physical Activity, Exercise Physiology, Movement
Mapping Physical Activity Location Availability: A Case Study of Baltimore City, MD
(College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (UMD) Geographical Sciences Doctoral Student)
Background: Access to places to be active is associated with greater physical activity (PA) among children and adults. Using Baltimore City as a model, this study aims to: (1) generate a cumulative neighborhood-level PA Location Availability Score (PALAS) using GIS data and techniques; (2) create a city-wide map of the PALAS; (3) identify neighborhoods with low PA availability. Methods: Nine unique constructs were used to create the PALAS. Shapefiles containing locations of city-owned PA sites (Department of Parks and Recreation), provided within neighborhood presence of (1) recreation centers, (2) parks (inclusion criteria >/=1 acre and having at least one “feature”, n=96 included), and (3) school grounds/playgrounds/other city-funded locations (soccer pavilions, ice rinks, skate parks, etc.) .(4) Presence of private PA sites (for-profit, non-profit, or residential), was identified and hand-digitized using an internet search protocol by two independent raters. (5) Presence of green space suitable for PA was identified from land cover land use data (Department of Planning). The remaining constructs consider the proximity neighborhoods within a 0.25 mile buffer of (6) parks, (7) recreation centers, (8) school grounds/playgrounds/city-funded sites, and (9) private PA sites. Results: Baltimore City has 278 neighborhoods. Within each neighborhood, 57 have a recreation center, 53 have at least one park, 155 have green space, 171 have school grounds/playgrounds/ city-funded sites, and 77 have a private PA site (218 private PA sites were identified and geocoded). The mean PALAS was 3.95 (range 0-8), 112 neighborhoods had PALASs =3, indicating limited PA access. Conclusions: This study used new and publicly available GIS data to generate a PALAS for each neighborhood in Baltimore City. Future studies should examine the association between PALAS and individual/neighborhood-level health outcomes. The map based on PALAS scores may be used by academics or policy makers to target neighborhoods for interventions and future PA sites.