Consoli A, Nettel-Aguirre A, Spence JC, McHugh TL, Mummery K & McCormack GR
Built Environment and Physical Activity
Participation in physical activity is known to improve a person’s overall health. Regular walking is a no-cost, low risk physical activity that most able-bodied adults can incorporate into their daily lives (1). Regular walking can provide a number of health benefits including increased physical fitness, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved blood pressure, weight loss and improved mental health (2, 3, 4, 5). Despite the numerous health benefits physical activity and walking provides, many North American adults do not participate in enough physical activity to achieve these health benefits.
Pedometers have been used as a potential tool to promote physical activity and increase walking among adults (6). While pedometer interventions offer a potential means to improve a person’s physical activity and health, it is important to consider how the built environment might influence the success of pedometer-based physical activity interventions. Objectively measured neighbourhood built features that are associated with walking include street and sidewalk connectivity, residential density, proximity, a variety of destinations and land uses and pedestrian infrastructure (7). A person’s subjective perceptions of their neighbourhood walkability including access to recreation facilities, sidewalks, shops/services and safety can also contribute to physical activity participation (8). A recent study sought to assess how the built environment might facilitate or impede the success of pedometer-based physical activity interventions.
The influence of neighbourhood walkability on a pedometer intervention
This study investigated the impact of the built environment on the physical activity of individuals participating in a 12-week internet-delivered pedometer-based intervention (UWALK) and their adherence to the UWALK intervention. The built environment was assessed using Walk Score® to estimate objectively measured walkability and the Neighbourhood Environment Walkability Scale – Abbreviated [NEWS-A] to capture participants self-reported neighbourhood walkability. A one-unit increase in self-reported walkability (NEWS-A) was found to be associated with an increase of 46 more daily steps, while objectively measured walkability was not associated with daily steps. Neither self-reported nor objectively measured walkability were associated with adherence to the UWALK intervention. These findings suggest that perceived walkability may be more important than objectively measured walkability when considering the effectiveness of pedometer-based interventions like UWALK. Strategies that target an individual’s perceptions of their neighbourhood walkability, for example, information about walkable routes in neighbourhoods and community recreation events, should be considered when administering pedometer-based physical activity interventions.
Suggested Citation: Consoli A, Nettel-Aguirre A, Spence JC, McHugh TL, Mummery,K, & McCormack GR. Associations between objectively-measured and self-reported neighbourhood walkability on adherence and steps during an internet-delivered pedometer intervention. PloS One. 2020; 15(12): e0242999–e0242999. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0242999
Written by Calli Naish, BAS and Dalia Ghoneim, MPH, CSEP-CEP; Graphic by Calli Naish and Dalia Ghoneim
Posted on March 16, 2021
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