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Perceptions of Neighbourhood Walkability and Physical Activity

Updated: Jun 23

Results from “A population-based study of the associations between neighbourhood walkability and different types of physical activity in Canadian men and women”

Nichani, V., Vena, J.E., Friedenreich, C.M., Christie, C., & McCormack, G.R.

Built environment contributes to increased physical activity

Creating a supportive neighbourhood built environment may be one strategy for increasing physical activity at the population level (1, 2). Positive perceptions of neighbourhood characteristics are important for increasing physical activity (1,3). Particularly, neighbourhood characteristics that can increase physical activity among the general population include residential density, mix and diversity of land uses and destinations, street connectivity, pedestrian infrastructure, traffic and crime safety, and aesthetics (1). Men and women may perceive these neighbourhood features differently in relation to their physical activity habits. Understanding how neighbourhood features affect physical activity levels among men and women may help inform urban planning and public health policies. A recent study estimated the associations between perceptions of neighbourhood characteristics and different types of physical activity among Canadian men and women.

The associations between perceived neighbourhood characteristics and physical activity

The findings demonstrate that different neighbourhood characteristics can have varying effects on the kind of physical activity a person participates in as well as the amount of time spent participating in those activities. Overall neighbourhood walkability (combined features) was found to be associated with increased participation in transportation walking (TW), leisure walking (LW), moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA), and vigorous-intensity physical activity (VPA). Moreover, overall walkability was also associated with the amount of time spent in each of these activities except for MPA. Some associations between perceived neighbourhood characteristics and physical activity differed among men and women. The sex-stratified results showed that men were less likely to participate in VPA when street connectivity increased. Additionally, men also spent less time completing VPA when crime safety improved. Among women, improved pedestrian infrastructure was associated with greater LW participation while overall walkability was associated with more time spent in VPA. Improving perceptions of neighbourhood walkability by modifying the neighbourhood built environment may influence participation and time spent in different types of physical activity among Canadian adults.

Suggested Citation: Vikram Nichani, Jennifer E. Vena, Christine M. Friedenreich, Chelsea Christie, Gavin R. McCormack. A population-based study of the associations between neighbourhood walkability and different types of physical activity in Canadian men and women. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 129:105864. Doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105864.


Written By Dr. Vikram Nichani, PhD, MSc, MBBS | posted on December 20th, 2019

References:

1. Jack E, McCormack GR. The associations between objectively-determined and self-reported urban form characteristics and neighbourhood-based walking in adults. The International Journal

of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2014;11:71.

2. Duncan MJ, Spence JC, Mummery WK. Perceived environment and physical activity: a meta-analysis of selected environmental characteristics. The International Journal of Behavioural

Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2005;2:11.

3. Malambo P, Kengne AP, Lambert EV, De Villers A, Puoane T. Association between perceived built environmental attributes and physical activity among adults in South Africa. BMC Public Health. 2017;17(1):213.

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