The relation between proximity to and characteristics of green spaces to physical activity and health: A multi-dimensional sensitivity analysis in four European cities

Marcel Cardinali*, Mariëlle A. Beenackers, Arjan van Timmeren, Uta Pottgiesser

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Introduction: Non-communicable diseases are the global disease burden of our time, with physical inactivity identified as one major risk factor. Green spaces are associated with increased physical activity of nearby residents. But there are still gaps in understanding which proximity and what characteristics of green spaces can trigger physical activity. This study aims to unveil these differences with a rigorous sensitivity analysis. Methods: We gathered data on self-reported health and physical activity from 1365 participants in selected neighbourhoods in Porto, Nantes, Sofia, and Høje-Taastrup. Spatial data were retrieved from OpenStreetMap. We followed the PRIGSHARE guidelines to control for bias. Around the residential addresses, we generated seven different green space indicators for 15 distances (100–1500 m) using the AID-PRIGSHARE tool. We then analysed each of these 105 green space indicators together with physical activity and health in 105 adjusted structural equation models. Results: Green space accessibility and green space uses indicators showed a pattern of significant positive associations to physical activity and indirect to health at distances of 1100 m or less, with a peak at 600 m for most indicators. Greenness in close proximity (100 m) had significant positive effects on physical activity and indirect effects on health. Surrounding greenness showed positive direct effects on health at 500–1100 m and so do green corridors in 800 m network distance. In contrast, a high quantity of green space uses, and surrounding greenness measured in a larger radius (1100–1500 m) showed a negative relationship with physical activity and indirect health effects. Conclusions: Our results provide insight into how green space characteristics can influence health at different scales, with important implications for urban planners on how to integrate accessible green spaces into urban structures and public health decision-makers on the ability of green spaces to combat physical inactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117605
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume241
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Funding

Funding Information:
The work of Mariëlle Beenackers was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) (grant number 09150161810158/VI. Veni.194.041 ) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant number 956780 ).

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the partners in URBiNAT for supporting the design and distribution of the survey that is one fundament of the dataset used in this study, namely from Sofia: Angel Burov, Milena Tasheva Petrova (Sofia University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy), Beata Tsoneva (Sofia Municipality), Georgetta Rafailova and Nevena Germanova (Sofiaplan); from Porto: Gonçalo Canto Moniz, Nathalie Nunes (University of Coimbra) and Porto Municipality; from Nantes: Ghozlane Fleury-Bahi, Philippe Bodénan (University of Nantes), Nantes Metropole and Nantes Municipality; from Høje-Taastrup: Nabil Zacharias Ben Chaabane (Høje-Taastrup Municipality). In addition, we would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback, which helped improve the manuscript further. Funding, The work of Marcel Cardinali was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program [grant number 776783]. The work of Mariëlle Beenackers was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) (grant number 09150161810158/VI. Veni.194.041) and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant number 956780). Declaration of generative AI and AI-assisted technologies in the writing process, During the preparation of this work, the author(s) used ChatGPT 4.0 in order to proofread the text. After using this tool, the author(s) reviewed and edited the content as needed and take(s) full responsibility for the content of the publication.

Funding Information:
The work of Marcel Cardinali was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program [grant number 776783 ].

Keywords

  • Behaviour
  • Greenspace
  • Mediator
  • Public health
  • Sedentary lifestyle

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