Associations of adult physical activity with perceived safety and police-recorded crime: The Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Kelly R. Evenson, Richard Block, Ana V.D. Roux, Aileen P. McGinn, Fang Wen, Daniel A. Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Background: Due to the inconsistent findings of prior studies, we explored the association of perceived safety and police-recorded crime measures with physical activity.Methods: The study included 818 Chicago participants of the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 45 to 84 years of age. Questionnaire-assessed physical activity included a) transport walking; b) leisure walking; and c) non-walking leisure activities. Perceived safety was assessed through an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Police-recorded crime was assessed through 2-year counts of selected crimes (total and outdoor incivilities, criminal offenses, homicides) per 1000 population. Associations were examined using generalized estimating equation logistic regression models.Results: Perceiving a safer neighborhood was positively associated with transport walking and perceiving lower violence was associated with leisure walking. Those in the lowest tertile of total or outdoor incivilities were more likely to report transport walking. Models with both perceived safety and police-recorded measures of crime as independent variables had superior fit for both transport walking and leisure walking outcomes. Neither perceived safety nor police-recorded measures of crime were associated with non-walking leisure activity.Conclusions: Perceived and police-recorded measures had independent associations with walking and both should be considered in assessing the impact of neighborhood crime on physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
StatePublished - Dec 17 2012


  • Crime
  • Environment
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Leisure activities
  • Physical activity
  • Safety
  • Social environment
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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