247465 Positive deviants: Physically active adults in rural environments

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Michelle Kegler, DrPH , Emory Prevention Research Center, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Iris Alcantara, MPH , Emory Prevention Research Center, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Nicole Dubruiel , Emory Prevention Research Center, Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA
J.K. Veluswamy , Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition, Emory Prevention Research Center, Albany, GA
Sandy Handwerk, PhD , Emory Prevention Research Center, Community Advisory Board, Albany, GA
Rural residents, particularly in the South, are less physically active than their urban counterparts and often live in areas with limited walkability (e.g., no sidewalks) and minimal access to recreational facilities. To gain an understanding of what makes these individuals physically active despite their environment, we conducted qualitative interviews (n=29) with physically active adults who live in rural areas (e.g., outside of town) in southwest Georgia. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, double-coded, and analyzed for themes. Participants were 65.5% male and 24.1% African American, with a mean age of 55.9 years. Over half (51.7%) met CDC guidelines for physical activity; 48.3% engaged in at least some leisure-time physical activity. Managing health problems was the top motivator for physical activity, followed by health care provider recommendations, a desire to lose weight, and a belief in the health benefits of exercise. Walking and yard work were the most common types of physical activity reported, and homes and yards were the most common places to be active. Specifically, physical activities done inside the home were calisthenics, weight-lifting, housework, and use of exercise machines; physical activities done in yards were yard work, gardening, and walking. Neighborhoods were discussed quite often as the main place to walk and/or exercise, with participants discussing their own property and nearby roads. Few were aware of indoor exercise facilities in their neighborhood. Results suggest that physically active individuals in rural areas are motivated by their health, and perceive their local surroundings as a resource for physical activity.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
List 3 factors that motivate rural adults to maintain a physically active lifestyle Describe how active rural adults use their homes and neighborhoods for physical activity

Keywords: Physical Activity, Rural Communities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I direct the Emory Prevention Research Center and have over 25 years of experience in chronic disease prevention research and practice
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.