Background: Secondary data is often necessary to assess the availability of commercial physical activity (PA) facilities and examine its association with individual behaviors and outcomes, yet the validity of such sources has been explored only in a limited number of studies. Methods: Field data were collected on the presence and attributes of commercial PA facilities in a random sample of 30 urban, 15 suburban and 15 rural Census tracts in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area and surrounding area. Results: Approximately 40% of PA establishments in the field data were listed for both urban and non-urban tracts in both lists except for non-urban tracts in D&B (35%), which was significantly improved in the combined list of D&B and InfoUSA. Approximately one quarter of the PA facilities listed in D&B were found on the ground in D&B whereas 40-50% of PA facilities listed in InfoUSA were found on the ground. PA establishments that offered instruction programs or lessons or that had a court or pool were less likely to be listed, particularly in the non-urban tracts. Conclusions: Secondary commercial business lists on PA facilities should be used with caution in assessing the built environment.
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