Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA) Materials

PARA Citations

Lee, R., Booth, K., Reese-Smith, J., Regan, G.,& Howard, H. (2005). The physical activity resource assessment instrument: Evaluating features, amenities and incivilities of physical activity resources in urban neighborhoods. InternationalJournal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2(13), 1-9.



Background: Neighborhood environment factors may influence physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to develop and test a brief instrument to systematically document and describe the type, features, amenities, quality, and incivilities of a variety of PA resources. Method: The one-page Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA) instrument was developed to assess all publicly available PA resources in thirteen urban lower income, high ethnic minority concentration neighborhoods that surrounded public housing developments (HDs) and four higher income, low ethnic minority concentration comparison neighborhoods. Neighborhoods had similar population density and connectivity. Trained field coders rated 97 PA resources (including parks, churches, schools, sports facilities, fitness centers, community centers, and trails) on location, type, cost, features, amenities, quality, and incivilities. Assessments typically took about 10 minutes to complete.

Results: HD neighborhoods had a mean of 4.9 PA resources (n = 73) with considerable variability in the type of resources available for each neighborhood. Comparison neighborhoods had a mean of 6 resources (n = 24). Most resources were accessible at no cost (82%). Resources in both types of neighborhoods typically had about 2 to 3 PA features and amenities, and the quality was usually mediocre to good in both types of neighborhoods. Incivilities at PA resources in HDneighborhoods were significantly more common than in comparison neighborhoods.

Conclusion: Although PA resources were similar in number, features, and amenities, the overall appearance of the resources in HD neighborhoods was much worse as indicated by substantially worse incivilities ratings in HD neighborhoods. The more comprehensive assessment, including features, amenities, and incivilities, provided by the PARA may be important to distinguish between PA resources in lower and higher deprivation areas.

McAlexander, K., Banda, J., McAlexander, J., & Lee, R. (2009). Physical activity resource attributes and obesity in low-income African Americans. Journal of Urban Health, 86(5), 696-707.


More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and African Americans are particularly vulnerable to obesity when compared to Caucasians. Ecological models of health suggest that lower individual and environmental socioeconomic status and the built environment may be related to health attitudes and behaviors that contribute to obesity. This cross-sectional study measured the direct associations of neighborhood physical activity resource attributes with body mass index (BMI) and body fat among low-income 216 African Americans (Mean (M) age= 43.5 years, 63.9% female) residing in 12 public housing developments. The Physical Activity Resource Assessment instrument measured accessibility, incivilities, and the quality of features and amenities of each physical activity resource within an 800-m radius around each housing development. Sidewalk connectivity was measured using the Pedestrian Environment Data Scan instrument. Ecological multivariate regression models analyzed the associations between the built environment attributes and resident BMI and body fat at the neighborhood level. Sidewalk connectivity was associated with BMI (M=31.3 kg/m2; pG0.05). Sidewalk connectivity and resource accessibility were associated with body fat percentage (M=34.8%, pG0.05). Physical activity resource attributes and neighborhood sidewalk connectivity were related to BMI and body fat among low-income African Americans living in housing developments.

KEYWORDS Obesity, Built environment, Physical activity resources (PARs), BMI, Public housing, African Americans