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Arnold School of Public Health

New research assessing Walkability indices and children’s walking behavior in rural vs. urban areas

New research published  by the CPARG team, using data from the Transitions and Activity Changes in Kids (TRACK) study, assessed the relationships between community walk indices, self-reported walking behaviors, and device-based physical activity measures in 348 fifth graders residing in rural and urban environments in South Carolina. Walk indices included in the study were Walk Score, the Frank Walk Index, and the EPA National Walkability Index. Although urban areas had higher scores on two of the three indices, these scores were not associated with children's walking behaviors or physical activity levels in either rural or urban areas. This may be due, in part, to the fact that many commonly used walk indices have been developed for use in urban settings. Furthermore, traditional urban-rural definitions may inaccurately capture the complexity of the built environment of some rural areas. Researchers also noted that children's physical activity levels are influenced by multiple different domains, in addition to the built environment. Therefore, various domains should be considered when creating interventions promoting walking for exercise and transportation in youth.  

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