Does the presence and mix of destinations influence walking and physical activity?

Tania Louise King, Rebecca Jodie Bentley, Lukar Ezra Thornton, Anne Marie Kavanagh
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2015, 12: 115

BACKGROUND: Local destinations have previously been shown to be associated with higher levels of both physical activity and walking, but little is known about how specific destinations are related to activity. This study examined associations between types and mix of destinations and both walking frequency and physical activity.

METHOD: The sample consisted of 2349 residents of 50 urban areas in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia. Using geographic information systems, seven types of destinations were examined within three network buffers (400 meters (m), 800 m and 1200 m) of respondents' homes. Multilevel logistic regression was used to estimate effects of each destination type separately, as well as destination mix (variety) on: 1) likelihood of walking for at least 10 min ≥ 4/week; 2) likelihood of being sufficiently physically active. All models were adjusted for potential confounders.

RESULTS: All destination types were positively associated with walking frequency, and physical activity sufficiency at 1200 m. For the 800 m buffer: all destinations except transport stops and sports facilities were significantly associated with physical activity, while all except sports facilities were associated with walking frequency; at 400 m, café/takeaway food stores and transport stops were associated with walking frequency and physical activity sufficiency, and sports facilities were also associated with walking frequency. Strongest associations for both outcomes were observed for community resources and small food stores at both 800 m and 1200 m. For all buffer distances: greater mix was associated with greater walking frequency. Inclusion of walking in physical activity models led to attenuation of associations.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this analysis indicate that there is an association between destinations and both walking frequency and physical activity sufficiency, and that this relationship varies by destination type. It is also clear that greater mix of destinations positively predicts walking frequency and physical activity sufficiency.

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