Rural residents in communities face opportunities and obstaclesfor physical activity (PA), health, and wellbeing that differ from those experienced in non-rural settings. Yet, rural people’s interpretations of PA and experience of the PA environment are understudied. This study utilized a descriptive case study approach in three rural New Hampshire communities and engaged rural residents in community participatory action research of the experiential factors that enable or prevent PA for adults and youth in their communities. Qualitative data were collected using photo mapping surveys, participant observations, interviews, and focus groups, analyzed using a constant comparative method, and triangulated across multiple sources. Themes emerged and were organized into an ecologically grounded “People and Places” framework. Results depicted how attributes of people and place interact to explain PA habits and conditions in these rural communities, and generated resident-informed recommendations for designing programs, modifying environments, and enacting policies to advance active lifestyle supports.

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