Validation of the Block Walk Method for Assessing Physical Activity occurring on Sidewalks/Streets.


Center for Innovative Health Research, Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, 19726, USA. [Email]


The block walk method (BWM) is one of the more common approaches for assessing physical activity (PA) performed on sidewalks/streets; however, it is non-technical, labor-intensive, and lacks validation. This study aimed to validate the BWM and examine the potential for using a wearable video device (WVD) to assess PA occurring on sidewalks/streets. Trained observers (one wearing and one not wearing the WVD) walked together and performed the BWM according to a previously developed protocol along routes in low, medium, and high walkable areas. Two experts then reviewed the videos. A total of 1150 (traditional) and 1087 (video review) individuals were observed during 900 min of observation. When larger numbers of individuals were observed, the traditional method overestimated the overall number of people as well as those walking and sitting/standing, while underestimating the number of runners. Valid estimates of PA occurring on sidewalks/streets can be obtained by the traditional BWM in low and medium walkability areas and/or with non-common activities (cycling); however, its validity is questionable when sidewalks/streets use volume is high. The use of WVDs in PA assessment has the potential to establish new levels of accuracy, reduce resource requirements, and open up the possibility for retrospective analysis.


health behavior,measurement,observation method,public health,

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