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The Influence of Neighbourhood Walkability on an Internet-facilitated Pedometer-based Intervention

Updated: Mar 16

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


References:


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  2. Hamer M, Chida Y. Walking and primary prevention: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.(Clinical report). British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2008;42(4):238.

  3. Richardson CR NT, Abraham JJ, et al. A meta-analysis of pedometer-based walking interventions and weight loss. Ann Fam Med 2008;6(1):69-77.

  4. Lee L-L, Watson MC, Mulvaney CA, Tsai C-C, Lo S-F. The effect of walking intervention on blood pressure control: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2010;47(12):1545-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2010.08.008.

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  6. Ogilvie D, Foster CE, Rothnie H, Cavill N, Hamilton V, Fitzsimons CF, et al. Interventions to promote walking: systematic review. BMJ. 2007;334(7605):1204. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39198.722720.BE.

  7. McCormack GR, Shiell A. In search of causality: a systematic review of the relationship between the built environment and physical activity among adults.(Review). The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2011;8:125.

  8. Spence JC, Plotnikoff RC, Rovniak LS, Martin Ginis KA, Rodgers W, Lear SA. Perceived neighbourhood correlates of walking among participants visiting the Canada on the Move website. Canadian journal of public health = Revue canadienne de sante publique. 2006;97 suppl 1:S36-S40.


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