Upping activity levels
Increase Physical Activity
Koreny and teammates evaluated how urban design influences the activity levels of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They determined via research with people with mild-to-very severe COPD that “higher population density was associated with fewer steps, more sedentary time and worse exercise capacity. . . . Pedestrian street length related with more steps and less sedentary time. . . . Steeper slope was associated with better exercise capacity. . . . Higher NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] levels related with more sedentary time and more difficulty in physical activity.
Marquet and colleagues link area walkability and greenness to the activity levels of users. They found “Using a nationwide sample of working female adults . . . [and] seven days of GPS and accelerometry data. . . . [that] Higher activity space walkability was associated with higher levels of moderate-vigorous physical activity, and higher activity space greenness was associated with greater numbers of steps per week. . . . Highest levels of moderate-vigorous physical activity were observed for participants with both high walkability and high greenness in their activity spaces.
Koohsari and colleagues studied how worker perceptions of workplace layouts influence how active they are during the day. The investigators had study participants report their physical activity during the workday and provide details on the design of their workplace. The Koohsari team interprets their findings by sharing that "There may be a disincentive to move around the office in shared and open-plan offices because of the disruption to work or the potential to be judged. It may be possible that seeing others (shared and open-plan offices) sitting acts as a cue also to sit more (social
What neighborhoods can kids and their parents benefit from being in? Hunter and colleagues set out to answer this question. Their goal was “To identify features parents perceived as being relevant for their child’s active play, their own active recreation, and their coactivity. Parents . . . with preschoolers . . . living in Edmonton, Canada were recruited. . . .
Research by Wali and teammates confirms that walkability boosts health. They share that they examined “high resolution data for 476 participants in the Rails and Health study on health care costs, mode specific MVPA[ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity], parcel-level built environment, and neighborhood perception surveys. . . . A 1% increase in bike, walk, and transit-related MVPA was associated with lower health care costs by −0.28%, −0.09%, and −0.27% respectively. A one-unit increase in neighborhood walkability index correlates with a 6.48% reduction in health care costs. . . .
Asano and colleagues learned that walking in hot outdoor environments can harm subsequent cognitive performance indoors; this finding supports creating more temperature controlled indoor walking areas in office complexes and similar locations. The research team reports that “In the experiments [conducted], a total of 96 participants took a mathematical addition test in an air-conditioned room before and after walking in an actual outdoor environment.
Hunter and colleagues studied how neighborhood design influences resident actions.
What sorts of design features encourage people to go outdoors and walk around their neighborhoods, towns and cities? Neuroscience research supplies answers to that question while also making it clear that walking can help us think more clearly, creatively, and productively, all as we burn calories.