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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55638. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055638. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Access to recreational physical activities by car and bus: an assessment of socio-spatial inequalities in mainland Scotland.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK.


Obesity and other chronic conditions linked with low levels of physical activity (PA) are associated with deprivation. One reason for this could be that it is more difficult for low-income groups to access recreational PA facilities such as swimming pools and sports centres than high-income groups. In this paper, we explore the distribution of access to PA facilities by car and bus across mainland Scotland by income deprivation at datazone level. GIS car and bus networks were created to determine the number of PA facilities accessible within travel times of 10, 20 and 30 minutes. Multilevel negative binomial regression models were then used to investigate the distribution of the number of accessible facilities, adjusting for datazone population size and local authority. Access to PA facilities by car was significantly (p<0.01) higher for the most affluent quintile of area-based income deprivation than for most other quintiles in small towns and all other quintiles in rural areas. Accessibility by bus was significantly lower for the most affluent quintile than for other quintiles in urban areas and small towns, but not in rural areas. Overall, we found that the most disadvantaged groups were those without access to a car and living in the most affluent areas or in rural areas.

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