Crime Perception Affects Citizens' Physical Fitness | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Crime Perception Affects Citizens' Physical Fitness

A U.S. study done on Jackson, MS and two other towns in North Carolina showed a relationship between "their perception of crime in their neighborhood, and their view of crime as a barrier to physical activity."

Respondents who believed they lived in a low-crime neighborhood were 30 percent to 50 percent more likely to meet the U.S. Surgeon General's recommendations for physical activity than people who believed they lived in a high-crime neighborhood....

The study also found:

About 19 percent of respondents cited crime or fear for personal safety as a barrier to physical activity;
People who did not perceive crime or fear for personal safety as a barrier to physical activity were about 40 percent more likely to meet physical activity recommendations;
There was no difference between men and women in terms of associations between levels of physical activity and perceptions of neighborhood crime or fear for personal safety.

I have heard some people in Jackson say that they will not go for a walk in the park, or even around the block, for fear of being attacked. Of course, some still exercise with caution. I once saw a woman power walking down Highway 80 with a golf club!

Is negative press making us fat? Share your thoughts.

Previous Comments

ID
105179
Comment

Oooo, what a delicious post. ARe people really worried about going for a walk? This is absurd. The self-inflicted stress is going to kill those people sooner than some phantom attacker. People can be real dumbasses. It's kind of like all the studies about people who live in the suburbs being more likely to be killed in a commuting accident than from some urban attacker.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-09T19:35:24-06:00
ID
105180
Comment

Donna, as crazy as it sounds, I hear people say something about a violent crime they heard or read about, and whether the incident occurred in Jackson or L.A., they say, "See there? That's why I don't leave the house." I was taking my mom to work early one morning (before 6 AM), and she saw two people walking together in Ridgeland. Even though there was more than one person, she said she still thought it was too dangerous for them to be out there. Then again, she didn't like it too much when we went to a house down the street when we were kids.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-09T23:15:54-06:00
ID
105181
Comment

This is a great blog entry, but my spider sense is tingling about that first statistic regarding perceived neighborhood safety because low-income Americans are disproportionately likely to be obese and disproportionately likely to live in neighborhoods with higher crime rates. So while there is a possible causative factor going in the one direction, where an extreme version of the argument might go "those dreadful fat people might be skinny if they just went out and exercised," there's also the reverse causative factor of "people who live in neighborhoods that really are more vulnerable to crime, and who can't afford gym membership, are more likely to be obese." Consider also that filling healthy food is, by and large, more expensive and (when preparation is involved) more time-consuming to prepare than filling unhealthy food. I can have two massive 99 cent cheeseburgers or I can spend 20 minutes and $12 making vegan ravioli. I can buy an entire box of Little Debbie's snack cakes for $1.29 or one good-sized grapefruit. We live in a country that seems tailor-made to make its low-income citizens obese. We need to change that. I'm not sure how. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-10T00:01:13-06:00
ID
105182
Comment

Tom, you hit the nail on the head (no pun intended). When you're just trying to survive, getting a jog in or loading up on bean sprouts just doesn't come to mind.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-10T00:16:45-06:00
ID
105183
Comment

Amen. And I think food insecurity is also a factor. My mother grew up with parents who had lived through the Great Depression and was brought up to eat everything that was on her plate, I was subsequently brought up the same way, and now we both have to watch our intake. People who are raised to value food, to believe that you have to eat it if it's there, are going to have to struggle with things like being overweight or obese. People who are not taught to value food, who believe that it is disposable if you don't want it, are under less pressure to eat as much. And guess which category low-income folks would logically fall into. Throw in the cost of gym memberships, the cost disparity of healthy vs. unhealthy foods, and the higher incidence of unhealthy stress and depression, and it's really a wonder that the income:obesity correlation isn't more dramatic than it is. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-10T05:20:24-06:00
ID
105184
Comment

I've never let crime deter me. If anything, I get out and walk my pooch for 3-5 miles to deter crime. The main deterence for me is weather. I admit I don't live in an uzi-infested neighborhood but we've recently had a few break-ins and our share of craziness going on... More reason for me to get out for a walk, garden in the front of my house, etc. "Tom, you hit the nail on the head (no pun intended). When you're just trying to survive, getting a jog in or loading up on bean sprouts just doesn't come to mind." LW Physical fitness (and I'm certainly no guru) would help those "just trying to survive" *most* in my opinion. A good jog or walk does amazing things to clear one's mind and allow focus and clarity. A brisk walk can be far more calming and centering for me than sitting quietly a la meditation on most days. Of course, alot of that has to do with the tension one carries. My stress and survival chemicals are best shed with an aggressive or focused routine. I think those "just trying to survive" would benefit immensely from a physical routine. Work out tension, aggression, and allow focus/resolution of a problem or situation. It'd be interesting to experiment with a "bad 'hood" or even a street in a "bad 'hood" to see if physical activity changed the overall mood of the neighbood and the overall perception of its residents. My hypothesis is things would shift dramatically after 30 days of focused physical activity. Not only would people meet new people and forge alliances and friendships, they'd be flooding their minds and bodies with positive energy/chemicals which go A LONG WAY in changing the outcome of a situation.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-10T08:08:16-06:00
ID
105185
Comment

I think those "just trying to survive" would benefit immensely from a physical routine. Work out tension, aggression, and allow focus/resolution of a problem or situation. I agree, but there are still a lot of shades of gray to deal with here. For instance, my older sister works three jobs, and the only time she gets at home during the week is just enough for her to sleep. How would you approach that situation?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-11T01:34:53-06:00
ID
105186
Comment

you can call someone a dumbass for being afraid to walk on the street, but when a woman walks alone and gets assaulted people say, what was she thinking walking alone? what a dumbass! seems like in this case you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Having had problems with people messing wiht me while walking on the street (mugging, indecent exposure, random proposals as if I were a hooker) I can say it is a real danger. It shouldn't be underestimated. A better solution is getting people together , there is safety in numbers. Or i guess you have to go buy a dog. not that dogs aren't great, but what if you don't really want one? I'm just trying to say I think there might be something more than illusion here...

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-03-12T21:26:26-06:00
ID
105187
Comment

and Knol you are right physical fitness reduces stress...we really are out of whack in a culture of all cars, and fast food.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-03-12T21:27:36-06:00
ID
105188
Comment

I wonder whether there has been any similar study of the "use of the outdoors" in suburbs. While I agree with the issues expressed concerning time/energy to exercise, the fact that less expensive food tends to be less healthy (even at a fast food restaurant, the grilled chicken or deli choices are easily $1-$3 more than the burger and fries choice), and the fact that many people can't afford the ridiculous costs of a gym membership, at least Jackson has sidewalks. In comparison, take a look at Madison -- no real sidewalks. I live in Madison (moved to this part of the state for a job in the Ridgeland/Madison area) just a mile from the Kroger on 51. Do you think I could walk or ride my bike to pick something up? Not unless I have a death wish. I live 1.5 miles from Strawberry Park -- and have to drive to use the park. I have complained to the mayor about it repeatedly and clearly it was something I now wish I had noticed when my husband and I bought our house. I think it more likely that Ladd is right: there are a number of factors leading to urban obesity. If perception of crime is keeping people off the sidewalks, is there a likewise increase in suburban obesity because there are no sidewalks?

Author
Newt
Date
2006-04-05T11:07:26-06:00
ID
105189
Comment

at least Jackson has sidewalks. Yes, but we could use more of them. I really would like to see more on main roads where homes are so children can walk safely without being sideswiped.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-05T11:44:11-06:00

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