** Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 15.3 September 2021. All rights reserved.**
Background: Obesity and chronic disease disproportionately affect American Indians (AIs). Identifying barriers to physical activity (PA) may promote PA and healthier lifestyles.
Objective: To identify perceptions of the built environment and examine whether there is an association between environmental perceptions and self-reported PA in AI communities.
Methods: We conducted a survey among 459 AI adults (survey response of 91.4%) residing in Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation, both located in primary rural areas, and we examined perceived PA environment and its association with PA adequacy (≥5 days/week). Participants provided self-report of PA frequency and duration (of ≥30 minutes per day), as well as the opportunity for exercise in indoor and outdoor, town center, and biking and school areas.
Results: Of respondents, 29% met the recommendations of at least 150 minutes per week, and 56% were obese. The majority had indoor and outdoor exercise areas in their towns, but many did not use them. Higher town center built environment summary scores were associated with adequate PA (estimate = 0.43; p = 0.02). Not feeling like there were streets with marked crosswalks (odds ratio [OR], 0.25; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.07–0.84) or being neutral/not sure about nice sidewalks (OR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.13–0.78) were associated with lower odds of getting adequate PA, and not feeling like the town center had working streetlights was associated with higher odds of getting adequate PA (OR, 5.22; 95% CI, 1.34–21.01).
Conclusions: We found that marked crosswalks and nice sidewalks in the town center were associated with getting adequate PA. This research, which identifies specific built environment factors that affect peoples’ PA, may be used by tribal and local organizations to more effectively prioritize community interventions to improve PA and potentially the health of the community, specifically in regards to crosswalks and sidewalks.