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Health Place. 2013 Jan;19:59-68. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.09.017. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

Perceived neighborhood environmental attributes associated with adults' leisure-time physical activity: findings from Belgium, Australia and the USA.

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Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


The study purpose was to examine the strength, direction and shape of the associations of environmental perceptions with recreational walking and leisure-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, using pooled data from four study sites (Baltimore [USA], Seattle [USA], Adelaide [Australia] and Ghent [Belgium]). Moreover, site- and gender-specificity of the associations were examined. In total, 6014 adults (20-65 years, 55.7% women) completed the Neighborhood Environmental Walkability Scale and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Both a 'recreational walking-friendliness' index and a 'leisure-time activity friendliness' index had a positive linear association with recreational walking and leisure-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, respectively. The associations were significant in all study sites except Ghent. Present findings were clearly site-specific, imposing possible challenges for built environment recommendations. In Belgium, interventions to promote leisure-time activity may need to target promotion of existing opportunities rather than built environment improvements.

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