Want to go for a walk? Your neighborhood might play a part

Feb 28, 2011 By Glenda Fauntleroy

Making a 30-minute walk part of your daily routine could come down to the positive features that exist in your neighborhood, says a new Australian study.

Although current recommendations advise adults to get at least 30 minutes of five days of the week to stay healthy, the researchers were not surprised to find that only about 37 percent of met that goal.

“Unfortunately many Australians don’t achieve the recommended activity levels, and I am quite sure this is a global problem,” said lead researcher Lee-Ann Wilson of the School of Public Health at Queensland University of Technology.

In the study appearing in the March/April issue of American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers evaluated data from 10,286 middle-age residents in 200 Brisbane, Australia, , who responded to a mailed questionnaire about their neighborhood participation in physical activity.

The researchers looked at many different neighborhood characteristics to see which made participants more liable to meet or exceed recommendations, such as street connectivity, hilliness, tree coverage, bikeways, streetlights and distance to a river or coast.

More trees in the neighborhood made it less likely people would walk 300 or more minutes per week, and having good street lighting made it 25 percent more likely that people would walk that much. Individuals with bikeways in their neighborhood were 34 percent more apt to walk between 30 and 90 minutes per week than those without bikeways. People who lived by a river or coast were 47 percent more prone to walk between 30 and 90 minutes per week.

“A surprising finding was the strength of association between and proximity to the Brisbane River or the coast,” said Wilson. “A lot of work has gone on in Brisbane to provide pleasant walkways along the river and it would seem that many people are taking advantage of this.”

Thomas Glass, Ph.D., an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, an epidemiologist who studies the role of social and behavioral factors in population health, found the study convincing.

“Everyone agrees that environmental interventions will be needed to stem the tide of the obesity epidemic,” said Glass. “This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence we have to date that factors like density and street connectivity are associated with walking.”

Explore further: Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

More information: Wilson LM, et al. The association between objectively measured neighborhood features and walking in middle-aged adults. Am J Health Promo 25(4), 2011.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study finds sick kids have fewer friends

Dec 07, 2010

A new study reveals that sick teens are more isolated than other kids, but they do not necessarily realize it and often think their friendships are stronger than they actually are.

Older Adults Say Cash Might Motivate Them to Walk

Feb 10, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- In 2006, a team of researchers set out to examine what sorts of walking programs and incentives might induce sedentary people over age 50 to put on their sneakers. They found that small cash payments might ...

Young dog owners more physically active

Feb 08, 2011

They’re furry, fun loving and could be the key to getting your sedentary teen off the couch, finds a new study on dog ownership and adolescent physical activity.

Poor health could be linked to unaffordable housing

Nov 09, 2010

People who cannot afford their housing are more likely to suffer from poor health, according to a new study, which also found that renters consider themselves less healthy than homeowners.

Recommended for you

Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Length of emergency room stay for trauma patients is shorter with the use of electronic health records, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

CDC: Almost everyone needs a flu shot

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Less than half of all Americans got a flu shot last year, so U.S. health officials on Thursday urged that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the coming flu season. "It's really unfortunate ...

User comments : 0