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Building Active and Fit Communities

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Results from “Active and fit communities. Associations between neighborhood walkability and health-related fitness in adults “.

McCormack, G.R., Frehlich, L., Blackstaffe, A., Turin, T.C., & Doyle-Baker, P.K.


Building active communities

A growing body of research suggests that the neighbourhood built environment may be important in supporting physical activity behaviours, such as walking or cycling. However, few studies have investigated how the built environment may influence fitness levels. Physical fitness can reflect the health-related benefits gained from participating in physical activity, including cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility (1). This study examined the associations between neighbourhood walkability and the perceptions of health-related fitness variables among Canadian adults. Information regarding neighbourhood walkability was objectively determined using Walk Score® and participant perceptions using the Physical Activity Neighborhood Environment Scale

(PANES) and Park Perceptions Index (PPI). PANES captured participant’s perceptions of their neighbourhood walkability while PPI measured the impressions that participants had regarding how supportive their neighbourhood parks were for physical activity.

Can we build fit communities too?

Results from this study demonstrated that objectively determined walkability, measured using Walk Score®, was not associated with any fitness variables. Alternatively, self-reported measures of the neighbourhood built environment were associated with perceived fitness. Specifically, the PANES index was associated with cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular, strength, flexibility, and overall fitness while the PPI was associated with the above mentioned fitness variables with the exception of muscular strength. These findings suggest that the neighbourhood built environment may support physical fitness in adults.

Suggested citation: McCormack, G.R., Frehlich, L., Blackstaffe, A., Turin, T.C., Doyle-Baker, P.K. Active and Fit Communities. Associations between Neighborhood Walkability and Health-Related Fitness in Adults. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2020, 17, 1131.

Written by Emma Chong, Bkin; Posted on February 26th, 2020



1. Caspersen, C. J., Powell, K. E., Christenson, G. M. Physical-Activity, Exercise, and Physical-Fitness - Definitions and Distinctions for Health-Related Research. Public Health Rep., 1985, 100 (2), 126-131.


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