Walking in the Rain, Safely

Safe environments encourage women to exercise

(RxWiki News) Trying to meet physical activity requirements is hard enough with demanding work schedules or little munchkins running around. Safety is another hurdle women have to jump over.

Safety is important and it shows in a new study that examines women’s environment and their physical activity levels. The U.S. Federal government recommends that adults over 18 years old should exercise for at least two hours and thirty minutes per week. But who wants to take a stroll or jog in an unsafe neighborhood?  

"When working out, find a safe place to exercise."

Researchers from Purdue University found that only 24 percent of women in the study met the recommended amount of physical activity.

However, the study did find women were more likely to be physically active if they lived in environments where crime rates are low and shops and recreation centers were available. Women who lived in the Midwest and South had higher chances of meeting guidelines if there were sidewalks available, but this had no effect on women in the Northeast and West.

Diane Shiao, P.T., M.S.P.T., D.P.T., agrees, "An environment that is favorable to exercise is key to maintaining healthy routines. Being in a comfortable environment is an advantage to getting the best results during a work out."

Keshia Pollack, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, stress how important it is to establish policies that can create safe environments so women and others will be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The study included 69,000 women who were from all over America and between the ages of 40 and 60. They were a part of the Nurses’ Health Study II in 2005. The participants were asked to complete a survey that asked questions regarding their environment, crime rate and amount of outdoor physical activity.

If your neighborhood is not safe or lacking accessible sidewalks, then Shiao suggests, "staying inside to exercise; it may be a better alternative. Creating a space at home for exercise and following enjoyable exercise video routines is a way to stay safe and healthy at the same time."

The study will be published in the November issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Review Date: 
October 11, 2011