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Does Relocation Affect Physical Activity?

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Results from “Changes in Objectively-Determined Walkability and Physical Activity in Adults: A Quasi- Longitudinal Residential Relocation Study “.

McCormack, G.R., MacLaren, L., Salvo, G., & Blackstaffe, A.


Relevance of Residential Relocation

Bedroom size is not the only factor that changes when you move to a new neighbourhood. Within a residential neighbourhood, many features that make up the built environment can influence an individual’s physical activity levels­ (1). Following residential relocation, changes of the built environment have been found to influence physical activity (2). Neighbourhood features, such as proximity to different destinations, connectivity of pathways, pedestrian infrastructure, aesthetics, and safety may promote a perceived change in walking and cycling behaviours (2, 3). In 2017, a Canadian study

compared the perceived changes in transportation walking, transportation cycling, and

overall physical activity among individuals who had recently moved neighbourhoods. Participants were organized into three unique groups: those who moved to a neighbourhood with greater walkability (“improvers”), those who moved to a neighbourhood with less walkability (“decliners”), and those who either moved to an equally walkable neighbourhood or did not move (“maintainers”).

Influence of changing neighbourhood walkability

Compared with walkability maintainers, participants in both the improver and decliner groups had perceived an increase in their transportation walking after moving neighbourhoods. Notably, the improver group had the highest perceived change in their transportation walking, while only members of the walkability decliner group perceived a decrease in their transportation walking since moving. Additionally, compared with walkability maintainers, only walkability improvers were more likely to increase their transportation cycling after residential relocation. The findings in this study provide support for a relationship between the built environment and resident’s physical activity behaviours. Future research can inform policies for urban and transportation planning, as well as public health by studying the perceptions and attitudes of individuals towards their built environment and how it may affect their physical activity.

Suggested Citation: McCormack, G.R., McLaren, L., Salvo, G., & Blackstaffe, A. (2017) Changes in Objectively-Determined Walkability and Physical Activity in Adults: A Quasi- Longitudinal Residential Relocation Study. International Journal of Environmental research and Public health, 14(5), 551. do1:10.3390/ijerph14050551

Written by: Emma Chong, Bkin: Posted September 11, 2019

  1. McCormack, G.; Shiell, A. In search of causality: A systematic review of the relationship between the built environment and physical activity among adults. Int. J. Behav. Nutr. Phys. Act. 2012, 8, 125.

  2. Wells, N.M.; Yang, Y. Neighborhood design and walking. A quasi-experimental longitudinal study. Am. J. Prev. Med. 2008, 34, 313–319.

  3. Beenackers, M.A.; Foster, S.; Kamphuis, C.B.; Titze, S.; Divitini, M.; Knuiman, M.; van Lenthe, F.J.; Giles-Corti, B. Taking up cycling after residential relocation: Built environment factors. Am. J. Prev. Med. 2012, 42, 610–615.


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