Adults’ leisure-time physical activity and the neighborhood built environment: a contextual perspective

Anna Kajosaari*, Tiina Laatikainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Context-free outcome measures, such as overall leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), are habitually applied to study the neighborhood built environment correlates of physical activity. This cross sectional study identifies and empirically tests potential methodological limitations related to the use of context-free measures and discusses how these may help in the interpretation of inconsistent associations between participation in moderate-to-vigorous LTPA and objectively measured neighborhood-level built environment attributes. Methods: We employ a public participation geographic information system (PPGIS), an advanced participatory mapping method, to study the spatial distribution of moderate-to-vigorous LTPA among adult urban Finnish residents (n 1322). Secondary sources of GIS land-use and sport facility data were used to disaggregate respondent-mapped LTPA by the behavioral context, such as indoor and outdoor sport facilities, green spaces, and other public open spaces. Associations between the use of the identified LTPA settings and a range of objectively measured neighborhood built environment attributes were studied with multilevel logistic regression models. Results: Disaggregated by behavioral context, we observed varied and partly opposite built environment correlates for LTPA. The use of indoor and outdoor sport facilities showed no significant associations with their neighborhood availability, but were significantly associated with personal-level attributes. By contrast, participation in LTPA in green and built public open space shared significant associations with access to and availability of neighborhood green space that persisted after controlling for personal-level covariates. Moreover, neighborhood distances up to 1600 m poorly captured participation in moderate-to-vigorous LTPA, as, on average, 40% of visits were located further from home. However, we found the immediate home environment to be an important LTPA setting for the least active participants. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that LTPA can be a highly heterogeneous measure regarding both the spatial distribution and the environmental correlates of behavioral contexts. The results show that context-free LTPA outcome measures yield inconsistent associations with built environment exposure variables, challenging the applicability of such measures in designing neighborhood-level built environment interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • physical activity
  • public participation GIS
  • built environment
  • leisure-rime physical activity

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