JOURNAL ARTICLE

Walkability and physical activity: findings from Curitiba, Brazil

Rodrigo Siqueira Reis, Adriano Akira Ferreira Hino, Cassiano Ricardo Rech, Jacqueline Kerr, Pedro Curi Hallal
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013, 45 (3): 269-75
23953352

BACKGROUND: Evidence from developing countries is limited on how income level for a given neighborhood is related to physical activity among its residents.

PURPOSE: The goal of the study was to examine the association between walkability and physical activity outcomes, and the effect of income on the relationship between walkability and physical activity in adults.

METHODS: The Spaces for Physical Activity in Adults Study (ESPACOS Project) took place in Curitiba, Brazil. Data were collected in 2010 in 32 census tracts selected to vary in income and walkability, as measured by GIS. Participants were 697 individuals aged 18-65 years (52.0% were women) randomly sampled from the selected neighborhoods. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to measure physical activity. All analyses were conducted in 2012.

RESULTS: The proportion of those who walked for transportation for ≥ 150 minutes/week was 21.1% in low-walkability areas, and ranged from 33.5% to 35.0% in high-walkability areas. A total of 12.6% of residents were found to walk for leisure for ≥ 150 minutes/week; this result did not vary across quadrants of walkability and income level. The prevalence of leisure-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was 7.1-10.5 percentage points higher in high-compared to low-walkability areas. After adjusting for all individual confounders, walkability showed an independent association with walking for transport (OR=2.10, 95% CI=1.31, 3.37, p=0.002) and leisure-time MVPA (OR=1.57, 95% CI=1.06, 2.32, p=0.024). Neighborhood income level was independently associated with leisure-time MVPA (OR=1.70, 95% CI=1.06, 2.74, p=0.029). No association was found between walkability and walking for leisure. No interaction was found between walkability and neighborhood income level.

CONCLUSIONS: This study, among adults living in Curitiba, Brazil, confirms findings from studies of high-income countries showing that walkability is positively associated with physical activity. People living in high-walkability areas were more likely to be physically active regardless of their neighborhood income level.

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