Social Capital, Neighbourhood Environments and Physical Inactivity Among Montreal Adults
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Research on social capital and physical activity has relied on proxy measures of trust and participation to assess individuals’ social capital. However, less is known about how social network capital is associated with physical inactivity. More recently, the association between neighbourhood context and health behaviours has been highlighted, suggesting that the social and physical environments can enhance or deter physical activity. The purpose of these two studies was to 1) assess and compare the association of trust, participation and network capital with physical inactivity; and 2) to assess the association between neighbourhood factors and physical inactivity in Montreal. These studies used data from the 2008 Montreal Neighbourhood Networks and Health Survey (MoNNET-HA), which consisted of 2707 adults residing in 300 Montreal neighbourhoods. Physical inactivity was assessed using an adapted version of the short International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Social capital was measured in three forms: generalized trust, social participation, and network capital. Network capital was measured using a position generator and consisted of network diversity, upper reachability, and range dimensions. Neighbourhood socioeconomic status and population density were used to assess aspects of the neighbourhood social and built environment. Multilevel logistic regression was used to examine the association of physical inactivity with social capital and neighbourhood factors. In the first study, network diversity (OR: 0.88; 95% CIs: 0.80-0.96), and social participation (OR: 1.81; 95% CIs: 1.08-3.01) were significantly associated with lower odds of physical inactivity. This study directs attention towards the association between network capital and physical inactivity. Further investigation of network capital might lead to a better understanding of how social capital is associated with physical inactivity. In the second study, population density was significantly associated with lower odds of physical inactivity (OR: 0.97 95% C.I: 0.95, 0.99). Further investigation of neighbourhood context is recommended to understand the underlying mechanisms involved in the association of neighbourhood population density and physical inactivity. Greater knowledge of neighbourhood context could lead to the development of supportive neighbourhood social and physical resources that promote and enhance physical activity behaviour.