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Background - Physical activity behavior is influenced by a person's physical environment, but few studies have used objective measures to study the influences of the physical environment on physical activity behavior in youth. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between selected neighborhood physical activity resources and physical activity levels in high school girls.

Methods - Participants were students in schools that had participated in a large physical activity intervention trial. The 3-Day Physical Activity Recall was completed by 1506 12th-grade girls. Data on physical activity facilities and resources in the participating communities were collected using a variety of methods. Physical activity resources within a 0.75-mile street-network buffer around each girl's home were counted using ArcGIS, version 9.1. Mixed-model regression models were used to determine if there was a relationship between three physical activity variables and the number of physical activity resources within the 0.75-mile buffer. Data were collected in 2002-2003 and analyzed in 2006-2007.

Results - On average, 3.5 physical activity resources (e.g., schools, parks, commercial facilities) were located within the 0.75-mile street-network buffer. Thirty-six percent of the girls had no physical activity resource within the buffer. When multiple physical activity resources were considered, the number of commercial physical activity facilities was significantly associated with reported vigorous physical activity, and the number of parks was associated with total METs in white girls.

Conclusion - Multiple physical activity resources within a 0.75-mile street-network buffer around adolescent girls' homes are associated with physical activity in those girls. Several types of resources are associated with vigorous physical activity and total activity in adolescent girls. Future studies should examine the temporal and causal relationships between the physical environment, physical activity, and health outcomes related to physical activity.

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