Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Community and Regional Planning


Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies

First Advisor

Timothy . Borich


The major chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers, are the leading cause of disability and death in the United States (U.S.). Overweight and obesity, highest in the U.S. South and Midwest, the location of this study, are the primary risk factors for the two most prevalent chronic diseases, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which along with the other chronic diseases generate 75% to 85% of the nation’s health care costs each year.

Studies have found people who engage in regular physical activity report reduced incidence of overweight and obesity and reduced incidence of chronic disease. For the current study, a random sample of adults living in residential neighborhoods in two adjacent voter prescient wards in a small town in rural Iowa completed a survey (n=162) to determine the impact place of residence had on diet and exercise. The two neighborhoods/wards, one with sidewalks and the other without sidewalks, had no statistically significant differences in demographic data regarding age, gender or income. Statistical analysis of survey data found place of residence, in a neighborhood with sidewalks or without sidewalks, was associated with residents’ favorite exercise and decision to exercise. Of seven categories of favorite exercise, in the ward with sidewalks, 62.8% of survey respondents chose walking as their favorite exercise and 6.4% indicated they did nothing-no exercise. In the ward without sidewalks, 50.0% chose walking as their favorite exercise and 16.7% indicated they did nothing-no exercise. Current study results suggest sidewalks in residential neighborhoods in small towns in rural America might promote lifelong engagement in exercise which would improve health and lower healthcare costs of individuals living in the regions of the U.S. with the highest incidence of overweight and obesity.

Copyright Owner

Linda Johanson



File Format


File Size

124 pages