How the Built Environment Promotes Residents’ Physical Activity: The Importance of a Holistic People-Centered Perspective

Yufang Zhang, Terry van Dijk, C. Wagenaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Promoting adequate physical activity (PA) such as walking and cycling is essential to cope with the global health challenge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Much research has been conducted to analyze how the built environment can promote PA, but the results are not consistent. Some scholars found that certain built environments such as green spaces generated positive impacts on PA, while some other studies showed no correlations. We suspected that the built environment should be measured in a deeply holistic nuanced way in order to properly reflect its impact on PA. Therefore, our research adopted an integral urban-analysis comparing three typical neighborhoods in Beijing, China. Our data show that the highest PA occurs in the neighborhood with the lowest density, amount of green space and street connectivity, apparently compensated by its low-rise housing type and high appreciation of the quality of sidewalks and street safety. This indicates that dimensions impacting PA have to be considered in context, and the peoples’ perception of the built environment matters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5595
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • built environment
  • physical activity
  • urban analysis
  • walking and cycling
  • neighborhood design
  • China

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