Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine
Several studies have found significant relationships between environmental characteristics (e.g., number of destinations, aesthetics) and physical activity. While a few of these studies verified that the physical activities assessed were performed in the environments examined, none have done this in an urban, neighborhood setting. This information will help efforts to inform policy decisions regarding the design of more "physically active" communities. Fourteen environmental characteristics of 60, 305-m-long segments, located in an urban, residential setting, were directly measured using standardized procedures. The number of individuals walking, jogging, and biking in the segments was assessed using an observation technique. The segments were heterogeneous with regards to several of the environmental characteristics. A total of 473 individuals were seen walking, bicycling, or jogging in the segments during 3,600 min of observation (60 min/segment). Of the 473 seen, 315 were walking, 116 bicycling, and 42 jogging. A greater number of individuals were seen walking in segments with more traffic, sidewalk defects, graffiti, and litter and less desirable property aesthetics. Only one environmental characteristic was associated with bicycling and none were significantly related with jogging. This study provides further evidence that environmental characteristics and walking are related. It also adds new information regarding the importance of scale (e.g., micro, macro) and how some environmental characteristics of urban, residential sidewalks and streets relate to physical activity.
Cross-sectional study, Environment, Exercise
Suminski R, Heinrich K, Poston W, Hyder MM, Pyle S. Characteristics of Urban Sidewalks/Streets and Objectively Measured Physical Activity. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 2008; 85(2). doi: 10.1007/s11524-007-9251-x.