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Increasing opportunities for physical activity in high-need New York City neighborhoods

Candace R. Young, MS1, Rebecca Lee, MPH1, Rachel Kramer, ScD, MHS1, Andrew Goodman, MD, MPH1, Christina Larkin, MPA1, Kelly Gillen2, Kim McConville3, Christine E. Brown, MPH1, and Thomas Matte, MD, MPH1. (1) Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2 Lafayette St., 20th Fl., Box 46, New York, NY 10007, (212) 442-1851, cyoung1@health.nyc.gov, (2) Central Recreation, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, 1234 5th Avenue, Room 201, New York, NY 10029, (3) Peter J. Sharp Center for Sports and Physical Education, Asphalt Green, 555 East 90th St., New York, NY 10128

Background: Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and South Bronx have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes and the lowest levels of physical activity in New York City (NYC). In 2003, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched District Public Health Offices (DPHOs) in these regions and partnered with neighborhood institutions to improve access to opportunities for physical activity.

Methods: A morning fitness program, “Wake Up New York” (WUNY), was piloted in the summer of 2003 in collaboration with the Parks Department. WUNY was offered free to the public at Parks sites in DPHO regions. The program was tracked through daily logs and an evaluation questionnaire.

Results: WUNY logged 4,471 visits over 7 weeks and an average daily attendance of 32 participants. A convenience sample of 131 questionnaires was collected. Women (89%) outnumbered men (11%), and 74% of participants were Latino. Average BMI of participants was 28.5; 34% of participants were obese and an additional 43% were overweight. Compared to the previous summer, 87% reported getting more physical activity in summer 2003. In the 6 months after WUNY, 95% planned to increase or maintain their physical activity level. Between 83% and 96% of participants lived in the zip code of the Park they attended or an adjacent zip code.

Conclusions: This pilot demonstrated the feasibility of increasing physical activity in high-need urban settings. The findings support the view that improved access to local resources enhances individual physical activity behavior. Efforts to extend the reach of such programs are needed to impact population-level indicators of physical activity.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Physical Activity, Health Disparities

Related Web page: www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/diabetes/diabetes-shapeup.html

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition: Addressing Lifestyles and Environmental Issues

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA