Research categorized under ‘active lifestyle’ investigates the relationship between public spaces and the benefits of activities such as walking, running, cycling, or sports. This includes studies investigating the ability of the built environment to improve overall health and wellness.
Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design (2010)
As the obesity epidemic in children increases, it is important to consider the role of neighborhoods in supporting children's physical activity and healthy development, especially in low- income communities where obesity levels among children are higher than for their middle-income counterparts. I present a participatory and qualitative GIS approach to mapping children's own perceptions and use of their neighborhood for physical activity with ten and eleven year-olds growing up in a diverse low-income community in Denver, CO. Girls walk shorter distances to and use different types of community spaces for play and recreation from boys, some of which is explained by the differing environmental-socialization approaches employed by parents and carers. Children's
perceptions of risk align spatially with features of the built environment, but do not correlate with reported crime. Results illustrate the utility of qualitative spatial analysis to understand relationships between children's perception, the built environment, and social factors that shape children's active transport, leisure, and recreation in their neighborhood. Children's local knowledge should be valued and solicited in community-level health and planning interventions to promote physical activity.
Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design (2016)
Rigolon, A. & Németh, J.
Visiting urban parks regularly can provide significant physical and mental health benefits for children and teenagers, but these benefits are tempered by park quality, amenities, maintenance, and safety. Therefore, planning and public health scholars have developed instruments to measure park quality, but most of these tools require costly and time consuming field surveys and only a handful focus specifically on youth. We rectify these issues by developing the QUality INdex of Parks for Youth (QUINPY) based on a robust literature review of studies on young people’s park visitation habits and an extensive validation process by academic and professional experts. Importantly, the QUINPY relies on publicly available geospatial data to measure park quality. We then successfully pilot test the QUINPY in Denver and New York City. We believe that park agencies, planning consultants, researchers, and nonprofits aiming to assess park quality will find this tool useful. The QUINPY is particularly promising given the increasing amount of publicly available geospatial data and other recent advancements in geospatial science.
This article investigates the impact of the running environment on perceived satisfaction, restoration, and running participation based on a questionnaire distributed to 1,581 novice runners. The most frequently experienced impediments on running routes are poor lighting, unleashed dogs, and encounters with cyclists and cars. Regression analyses reveal that attractiveness and restorativeness are positively associated with the quality of the running surface and running in parks or outside towns and negatively by running on public roads in town, by running in larger cities (>250,000 inhabitants), and by other road users. However, attractiveness and restorativeness of running routes play only a minor role in the decision of how frequently to run. Practical considerations (proximity, threats) appear to have a larger impact on running frequency. Importantly, the most frequently mentioned impediments (poor lighting, cars, unleashed dogs) do not affect running frequency, whereas infrequent impediments (threats by other people) significantly affect running frequency.
This study attempts to comprehensively and objectively measure subjective qualities of the urban street environment. Using ratings from an expert panel, it was possible to measure five urban design qualities in terms of physical characteristics of streets and their edges: imageability, enclosure, human scale, transparency and complexity. The operational definitions do not always comport with the qualitative definitions, and provide new insights into the nature of these urban design qualities. The immediate purpose of this study is to arm researchers with operational definitions they can use to measure the street environment and test for significant associations with walking behaviour. A validation study is currently underway in New York City. Depending on the outcome of this and other follow-up research, the ultimate purpose would be to inform urban design practice.
James E. Dills, Karen G. Mumford & Candace D. Rutt
Many people fail to achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Neighborhood parks serve as locations in which physical activity often occurs, and walking to parks provides added opportunity for leisure-time activity. The authors examine environmental characteristics of shortest pedestrian routes to parks to determine how route walkability affects park use. Using an objective environmental audit, the authors found that routes of park users were measurably more walkable than those of nonpark users and that each unit increase in total walkability score associated with a 20% increase in the likelihood of walking to the park, controlling for education and route length (odds ratio = 1.20; 95% confidence interval = [1.07, 1.34]). The most significant elements measured in- cluded route distance, traffic, neighborhood maintenance, street maintenance, safety, and aesthetics. Pedestrian scale environmental characteristics are associated with individuals’ use of neighborhoods for physical activity. Understanding these relationships can contribute to evidence-based design interventions to increase physical activity.
This article makes the case for shadowing as ethnographic methodology: focusing attention on what occurs as interlocutors move among settings and situations. Whereas ethnographers often zoom in on one principal set of situations or site, we argue that intersituational variation broadens and deepens the researcher’s ethnographic account as well as affording important correctives to some common inferential pitfalls. We provide four warrants for shadowing: (a) buttressing intersituational claims, (b) deepening ethnographers’ ability to trace meaning making by showing how meanings shift as they travel and how such shifts may affect interlocutors’ understandings, (c) gaining leverage on the structure of subjects’ social worlds, and (d) helping the ethnographer make larger causal arguments. We show the use value of these considerations through an analysis of violence and informal networks in an ethnography of immigrant Latinos who met to socialize and play soccer in a Los Angeles park.
Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2006 (2006)
Heath, G.W., Ross C. Brownson, Judy Kruger, Rebecca Miles, Kenneth E. Powell, Leigh T. Ramsey, and the Task Force on Community Preventive Services
Although a number of environmental and policy interventions to pro- mote physical activity are being widely used, there is sparse systematic information on the most effective approaches to guide population-wide interventions. Methods: We reviewed studies that addressed the following environmental and policy strat- egies to promote physical activity: community-scale urban design and land use policies and practices to increase physical activity; street-scale urban design and land use policies to increase physical activity; and transportation and travel policies and practices. These systematic reviews were based on the methods of the inde- pendent Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Exposure variables were classified according to the types of infrastructures/policies present in each study. Measures of physical activity behavior were used to assess effectiveness. Results: Two interventions were effective in promoting physical activity (community-scale and street-scale urban design and land use policies and practices). Additional information about applicability, other effects, and barriers to implementation are provided for these interventions. Evidence is insufficient to assess transportation policy and practices to promote physical activity. Conclusions: Because com- munity- and street-scale urban design and land-use policies and practices met the Community Guide criteria for being effective physical activity interventions, implementing these policies and practices at the community-level should be a priority of public health practitioners and community decision makers.
This study examines a behavioral model using latent variables of leisure involvement, place attachment, and destination loyalty among recreationists walking their dog in urban parks. A total of 928 usable questionnaires were collected. The confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling were analyzed using LISREL 8.70 for Windows. Empirical results indicate that leisure involvement (i.e., attraction and self expression) and place attachment (i.e., place identity and place dependence) accurately predict the destination loyalty of recreationists walking their dogs in urban parks. Findings of this study demonstrate that the proposed behavioral model is a highly effective means of examining the causal relationships among leisure involvement, place attachment, and destination loyalty. A series of managerial implications and recommendations for further studies are drawn.
Neighbourhoods may influence the health of individual residents in different ways: via the social and physical environment, as well as through facilities and services. Not all factors may be equally important for all population subgroups. A cross-sectional analysis of the Scottish Household Survey 2001 examined a range of neighbourhood factors for links with three health outcomes and two health-related behaviours. The results support the hypothesis that the neighbourhood has a multi-dimensional impact on health. There was also some evidence that the relationship between neighbourhood factors and health varied according to the population subgroup, although not in a consistent manner.
Boarnet, M. G., Forsyth, A., Day, K., & Oakes, J. M.
The Irvine Minnesota Inventory (IMI) was designed to measure environ- mental features that may be associated with physical activity and particularly walking. This study assesses how well the IMI predicts physical activity and walking behavior and develops shortened, validated audit tools. A version of the IMI was used in the Twin Cities Walking Study, a research project measuring how density, street pattern, mixed use, pedestrian infrastructure, and a variety of social and economic factors affect walking. Both bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the predictive value of the IMI. We find that while this inventory provides reliable measurement of urban design features, only some of these features present associations with increased or decreased walking. This article presents two versions of shortened scales—a prudent scale, requiring association with two separate measures of a physical activity or walking behavior, and a moderate scale, requiring association with one measure of physical activity or walking. The shortened scales provide built environment audit instruments that have been tested both for inter- rater reliability and for associations with physical activity and walking. The results are also useful in showing which built environment variables are more reliably associated with walking for travel—characteristics of the sidewalk infrastructure, street crossings and traffic speeds, and land use are more strongly associated with walking for travel, while factors that measure aesthetics are typically less strongly associated with walking for travel.
This article examines the effects of walkability on property values and investment returns. Walkability is the degree to which an area within walking distance of a property encourages walking for recreational or functional purposes. We use data from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries and Walk Score to examine the effects of walkability on the market value and investment returns of more than 4,200 office, apartment, retail and industrial properties from 2001 to 2008 in the United States. We found that, all else being equal, the benefits of greater walkability were capitalized into higher office, retail and apartment values. We found no effect on industrial properties. On a 100-point scale, a 10-point increase in walkability increased values by 1–9%, depending on property type. We also found that walkability was associated with lower cap rates and higher incomes, suggesting it has been favored in both the capital asset and building space markets. Walkability had no significant effect on historical total investment returns. All walkable property types have the potential to generate returns as good as or better than less walkable properties, as long as they are priced correctly. Developers should be willing to develop more walkable properties as long as any additional cost for more walkable locations and related development expenses do not exhaust the walkability premium.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2007)
This paper reports on a research study that examined if and how older adults use urban waterfront promenades for physical activity. The research involved case studies of three waterfront promenades in Vancouver, British Columbia. Research methods included field observations and surveys. The findings conclude that older adults use Vancouver's waterfront promenades in significant numbers, overwhelmingly for walking; that more of them walk with others rather than alone; that nearness to home may be a determining factor as to which promenade they use; and that the most important environmental characteristics of promenades may be well-separated walking and biking paths, trees, shade when it's hot, and sun when it's cool.