Aug 3, 2011
OBJECTIVE: The purposes of this study were to describe the types and availability of commercial facilities for physical activity (PA) in six diverse geographic areas (Washington DC and Maryland; South Carolina; Minnesota; Louisiana; Arizona; and California) and to assess the relationship between those facilities and the non-school PA of adolescent girls. METHODS: A total of 1556 6th grade girls participating in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (TAAG) wore accelerometers for 7 days providing 6 days of complete data, completed questionnaires in 2003 and had their residential addresses geocoded. Nearby commercial facilities available to provide PA (i.e. dance studios, youth organizations) within a 1-mile radius of participants' residences were identified and geocoded. The association between the presence of any commercial PA facility and girls' PA was determined using a multi-level design and controlling for demographic characteristics and other potential confounders. Analyses were conducted in 2005-2006. RESULTS: Sixty-eight percent of the girls had at least one commercial PA facility near their homes. Availability and types of commercial PA facilities differed by where participants lived. Girls who lived near one or more commercial PA facilities had higher non-school MET-weighted moderate-to-vigorous PA than girls who had none near their homes. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that commercial PA facilities are important contributors to the accumulation of PA among adolescent girls.