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Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Jul;120(7):971-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104584. Epub 2012 Mar 28.

Neighborhood built environment and transport and leisure physical activity: findings using objective exposure and outcome measures in New Zealand.

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Center for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE) and Whariki Research Centre, School of Public Health, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand.



Evidence of associations between neighborhood built environments and transport-related physical activity (PA) is accumulating, but few studies have investigated associations with leisure-time PA.


We investigated associations of five objectively measured characteristics of the neighborhood built environment-destination access, street connectivity, dwelling density, land-use mix and streetscape quality-with residents' self-reported PA (transport, leisure, and walking) and accelerometer-derived measures of PA.


Using a multicity stratified cluster sampling design, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of 2,033 adults who lived in 48 New Zealand neighborhoods. Multilevel regression modeling, which was adjusted for individual-level (sociodemographic and neighborhood preference) and neighborhood-level (deprivation) confounders, was used to estimate associations of built environment with PA.


We found that 1-SD increases in destination access, street connectivity, and dwelling density were associated with any versus no self-reported transport, leisure, or walking PA, with increased odds ranging from 21% [street connectivity with leisure PA, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0%, 47%] to 44% (destination accessibility with walking, 95% CI: 17%, 79%). Among participants who self-reported some PA, a 1-SD increase in street connectivity was associated with a 13% increase in leisure PA (95% CI: 0, 28%). SD increases in destination access, street connectivity, and dwelling density were each associated with 7% increases in accelerometer counts.


Associations of neighborhood destination access, street connectivity, and dwelling density with self-reported and objectively measured PA were moderately strong, indicating the potential to increase PA through changes in neighborhood characteristics.

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