Article Title



Sarah Appleton, Rebecca Ellis. Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

BACKGROUND: Before COVID-19, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) hosted free fitness classes on the BeltLine’s 22 miles of multi-use trails. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to examine the impact of COVID-19 on physical activity (PA) participation along the Atlanta BeltLine. METHODS: In October 2020, an anonymous survey was emailed to ABP fitness class and homeowner workshop attendees and shared on social media. The survey included demographic and Beltline access questions, and the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ; Godin & Shephard, 1985) to assess PA participation. It measured frequency of strenuous, moderate, and mild PA during a typical 7-day period before COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders and currently (Phase 2). Frequencies were multiplied by 9, 5, and 3 METs, respectively and summed for a weekly score. RESULTS: Participants were 137 adults who were about 41.7 years old (SD = 12.8) and mostly Non-Hispanic (66.4%), White (50.4%), females (52.6%). Most earned a bachelor’s degree (35.8%), had an annual income between $50,000 - $99,999 (29.2%), and worked full-time (46.0%). Participants who visited the Atlanta BeltLine in 2020 (81.0%) did so to engage in personal PA (67.9%) and most visits occurred during the city’s COVID-19 Phase 2 Response Plan (September - November 2020). Non-BeltLine visitors (n = 6; 4.4%) did not participate in the ABP’s free online fitness classes. Participants who visited the BeltLine in 2020 were older than those who did not visit, F (1, 95) = 2.86, p = .094. Participants who did not visit the BeltLine in 2020 were also more likely to earn < $50,000, χ2 = 5.10, p = .078, and not be employed full-time, χ2 = 3.05, p = .081. Using age, income, employment status, and pre-COVID PA scores as covariates, ANCOVA revealed a significant group (visitors vs. non-visitors) x time (pre-COVID vs. current) interaction, F (1, 81) = 4.21, p = .043. Specifically, visitors reported relatively stable PA scores from pre-COVID to Phase 2 (M = 59.4, SE = 0.0; M = 61.9, SE = 2.8); whereas, non-visitors reported reduced PA scores during the same time period (M = 59.4, SE = 0.0; M = 33.3, SE = 13.6). CONCLUSIONS: The decrease in PA levels from pre-COVID to Phase 2 among non-visitors suggests the BeltLine was an important environmental resource for users to maintain their PA during the COVID-19 pandemic. FUNDED BY: Atlanta BeltLine Partnership

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