Built Environment Correlates of Walking: A Review

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Abstract

Introduction:

The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in empirical investigation into the relations between built environment and physical activity. To create places that facilitate and encourage walking, practitioners need an understanding of the specific characteristics of the built environment that correlate most strongly with walking. This article reviews evidence on the built environment correlates with walking.

Method:

Included in this review were 13 reviews published between 2002 and 2006 and 29 original studies published in 2005 and up through May 2006. Results were summarized based on specific characteristics of the built environment and transportation walking versus recreational walking.

Results:

Previous reviews and newer studies document consistent positive relations between walking for transportation and density, distance to nonresidential destinations, and land use mix; findings for route/network connectivity, parks and open space, and personal safety are more equivocal. Results regarding recreational walking were less clear.

Conclusions:

More recent evidence supports the conclusions of prior reviews, and new studies address some of the limitations of earlier studies. Although prospective studies are needed, evidence on correlates appears sufficient to support policy changes.

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