, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 36-44

Individual, social environmental, and physical environmental influences on physical activity among black and white Adults: A Structural Equation Analysis

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Background: Social ecological models suggest that conditions in the social and physical environment, in addition to individual factors, play important roles in health behavior change. Using structural equation modeling, this study tested a theoretically and empirically based explanatory model of physical activity to examine theorized direct and indirect effects of individual (e.g., motivation and self-efficacy), social environmental (e.g., social support), and physical environmental factors (e.g.), neighborhood quality and availability of facilities).Method: A community-based sample of adults (N = 910) was recruited from 2 public health centers (67% female, 43% African American, 43% < $20,000/year, M age = 33 years) and completed a self-administered survey assessing their current physical activity level, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for physical activity, perceived social support, self-efficacy, and perceptions of the physical environment.Results: Results indicated that (a) perceptions of the physical environment had direct effects on physical activity, (b) both the social and physical environments had indirect effects on physical activity through motivation and self-efficacy, and (c) social support influenced physical activity indirectly through intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. For all forms of activity, self-efficacy was the strongest direct correlate of physical activity, and evidence of a positive dose-response relation emerged between self-efficacy and intensity of physical activity. Conclusions: Findings from this research highlight the interactive role of individual and environmental influences on physical activity.

This research was supported by grant R06/CCR71721602 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the CDC/ASPH Minority Fellowship Program (U48/CCU710806, Prevention Research Centers Program).
We also thank Drs. Nancy Krieger and Karen Emmons for their review of early drafts of this article.