A growing proportion of adolescents have poor cardiovascular health behaviors, including low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary behavior, thus increasing the likelihood of poor heart health in later years. This study tested the hypothesis that low perceived neighborhood safety would be associated with low levels of physical activity and high levels of recreational sedentary behavior in high-school students.
Using cross-sectional, weighted data from the 2015 Pennsylvania (USA) State and Philadelphia city Youth Risk Behavior Survey, multivariable logistic regression modeling was used to examine the association between perceived neighborhood safety, and physical activity levels and recreational screen-based sedentary behavior time respectively, while controlling for potential confounders.
After adjustment for other significant correlates of physical activity, students with low perceived neighborhood safety had a 21% reduced odds of being physically active on 5 or more days of the last week as compared to those who felt safe (p = 0.044). Perceived safety was not related to sedentary behavior; but sports team participation emerged as a strong correlate of low screen-based sedentary behavior (OR = 0.73, p = .002).
These data add to a growing body of work demonstrating the importance of perceived safety with physical activity levels in youth. Sports team participation may be a viable target to reduce screen-based sedentary time.