Alfonzo reports on recently completed research indicating that there are financial reasons, in addition to psychological and health ones, to design in walkability. As she details “Walkability is no longer something that is merely nice to have or a luxury; it is a key to economic competitiveness. Millennials and seniors are leading the charge.
Dunton and her colleagues learned that some contexts are better for physical activity than others. They report on research they’ve done in real world environments, not laboratories: “Greater positive affect [mood] during physical activity was reported when with other people (vs. alone). . . . Lower negative affect [mood] during physical activity was reported outdoors (vs. indoors).” These findings have implications for the design of exercise facilities, physical therapy suites, and similar locations.
Supporting walking for transportation
The design of sidewalks and the spaces beside them can make it more likely we’ll not only enjoy being in a certain location, but that all sorts of positive things happen while we’re there. Good streetscaping can make both us and our community happier and healthier.
In the last few months, multiple studies have indicated that people at work should be spending less time sitting. Now, the amount of standing that workers should do has been quantified, which will streamline planning the number of sit-stand desks to incorporate into workplaces and the design of break areas. An international panel of experts, convened in the UK, reviewed related studies published to date and determined that “for those occupations which are predominantly desk based, workers should aim to initially progress towards accumulating 2 hours/day of standing and lig
Research on working at treadmill desks continues to roll in. Larson and his colleagues have learned that “Walking on a treadmill desk may result in a modest difference in total learning and typing outcomes relative to sitting, but those declines may not outweigh the benefit of the physical activity gains from walking on a treadmill.”
Research Design Connections reports regularly on walkability research. Cho and Rodriguez have examined this issue in a different way, finding that “conducting research on a neighbourhood scale has been the dominant approach whereas the association of the regional-scale environment with behaviours has rarely been explored. . . .
Yang and colleagues found in a Missouri based study that “having transit stops within 10–15 min walking distance from home . . . [was] associated with commuting by public transit. . . . Having free or low cost recreation facilities around the worksite . . . and using bike facilities to lock bikes at the worksite . . . were associated with active commuting [riding bicycles to work, etc.].” All associations reported here were statistically significant.
What design features prompt people to drive between places that are within walking distance of each other? Schneider found that in shopping districts “respondents were significantly more likely to walk when the main commercial roadway had fewer driveway crossings and a lower speed limit.”
Robert Schneider. 2015. “Walk or Drive Between Stores? Designing Neighbourhood Shopping Districts for Pedestrian Activity.” Journal of Urban Design, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 212-229.
The design of Chinese cities affects the level of physical activity of people living in them, according to an article published in Preventative Medicine. This study is interesting because it replicates findings from Western countries. Researchers at New York University and East China Normal University report that “Chinese cities are different from many Western cities in relation to urban design, and far more densely populated. . . .