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Abstract

BACKGROUND: There is limited longitudinal evidence confirming the role of neighborhood environment attributes in encouraging people to walk more or if active people simply choose to live in activity-friendly neighborhoods. Natural experiments of policy changes to create more walkable communities provide stronger evidence for a causal effect of neighborhood environments on residents’ walking. OBJECTIVES: We aimed to investigate longitudinal associations between objective and perceived neighborhood environment measures and neighborhood recreational walking. METHODS: We analyzed longitudinal data collected over 8 yr (four surveys) from the RESIDential Environments (RESIDE) Study (Perth, Australia, 2003–2012). At each time point, participants reported the frequency and total minutes of recreational walking/week within their neighborhood and neighborhood environment perceptions. Objective measures of the neighborhood environment were generated using a Geographic Information System (GIS). RESULTS: Local recreational walking was influenced by objectively measured access to a medium-/large-size park, beach access, and higher street connectivity, which was reduced when adjusted for neighborhood perceptions. In adjusted models, positive perceptions of access to a park and beach, higher street connectivity, neighborhood esthetics, and safety from crime were independent determinants of increased neighborhood recreational walking. Local recreational walking increased by 9 min/wk (12% increase in frequency) for each additional perceived neighborhood attribute present. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide urban planners and policy makers with stronger causal evidence of the positive impact of well-connected neighborhoods and access to local parks of varying sizes on local residents’ recreational walking and health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number077009
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Volume125
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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