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Prev Med Rep. 2018 Jan 31;10:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.01.015. eCollection 2018 Jun.

Active design in affordable housing: A public health nudge.

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Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, One Gustave Levy Place, Box 1043, New York, NY 10029, United States.


This pilot study investigates the impact of active design (AD) strategies on physical activity (PA) among adults living in two Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified affordable housing developments in the South Bronx, New York. One building incorporates LEED Innovation in Design (ID) Credit: Design for Health through Increased Physical Activity. Tenants in an affordable housing building (AH) incorporating active design strategies completed PA self-assessments at their lease signing and one year later in 2015. Trained research assistants obtained body measurements. Residents of neighboring non-AD affordable housing (MCV) served as a comparison. Thirty four adults were recruited from AH and 29 from MCV, retention was 56% (n = 19) and 52% (n = 15) respectively at one year. The two groups' body mass index (BMI) and high-risk waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) were not statistically significantly different when analyzed as continuous variables, although BMI category had a greater decline at AH than at MCV (p = 0.054). There was a 31.5% increase in AH participants meeting MPA requirements and a statistically significant improvement in females (p = 0.031); while there was no change in the MCV participants overall or when stratified by gender. AH participants were significantly more likely to have reported increased stair use and less likely to have reported no change or decreased stair use than participants from MCV participants (p = 0.033). Housing has a role in individual health outcomes and behavior change, broad adoption of active design strategies in affordable housing is warranted to improve physical activity measures.


Active design; Affordable housing; Built environment; Physical activity

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