Physical Activity and the Built Environment

James F. Sallis, Marc A. Adams and Ding Ding

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Physical Activity and the Built Environment

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This chapter reports that street connectivity is positively correlated with physical activity for adults but negatively linked with physical activity for children. It also discusses a paradigm shift toward interdisciplinary research on environments with the goal of identifying promising built environmental and policy changes that could produce widespread and permanent changes in physical activity in multiple settings. Then, the past, present, and future of research on built environments and physical activity are explored. There is a consistent association between urban design, land use, and physical activity. Using public transit appears to contribute to overall physical activity. With few exceptions, built environment–physical activity associations have generalized across youth, adults, and older adults. Current and future generations of environment research would benefit from population-wide policies and environments designed to increase rates of physical activity and prevent sedentary behavior and obesity.

Keywords: physical activity; adults; children; built environments; urban design; land use

Article.  8183 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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