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Physical activity and concordance between objective and perceived walkability

Daniel Arvidsson, Naomi Kawakami, Henrik Ohlsson, Kristina Sundquist
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2012, 44 (2): 280-7
21716148

PURPOSE: The study's purpose was to investigate concordance between objective and perceived neighborhood walkability, their associations with self-reported walking and objective physical activity, and sociodemographic characteristics of individuals in neighborhoods with objectively assessed high walkability who misperceive it as low.

METHODS: In 1925 individuals age 20-66 yr of both high and low neighborhood walkability recruited from administrative areas in the city of Stockholm, Sweden, objective neighborhood walkability was assessed within a 1000-m radius of each individual's residential address using geographic information systems. Perceived walkability was based on the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale. Walking was assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and total physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were assessed by an accelerometer (ActiGraph). Sociodemographic characteristics were self-reported.

RESULTS: Objective and perceived neighborhood walkability agreed in 67.0% of the individuals, with κ = 0.34 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.30-0.38). One-third of the individuals in neighborhoods with objectively assessed high walkability misperceived it as low. This nonconcordance was more common among older and married/cohabiting individuals. After adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics, high objective neighborhood walkability was associated with 35.0 (95% CI = 14.6-64.6) and 10.5 (95% CI = -5.2 to 28.5) more minutes per week of walking for transportation and leisure, respectively, and 2.8 (95% CI = 0.9-5.0) more minutes per day of MVPA. High perceived neighborhood walkability was associated with 41.5 (95% CI = 15.8-62.9) and 21.8 (95% CI = 2.8-40.0) more minutes per week of walking for transportation and leisure, respectively, and 1.7 (95% CI = -0.3 to 3.7) more minutes per day of MVPA.

CONCLUSIONS: Objective and perceived neighborhood walkability both contribute to the amount of walking and objective physical activity. Both measures of neighborhood walkability may be important factors to target in interventions aiming at increasing physical activity.

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