Sidewalks Key Factor Influencing Physical Activity

A new study provides further evidence that incorporating sidewalks into existing neighborhoods is a practical and inexpensive way of encouraging people to exercise.
June 18, 2009, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"No matter which country you are in, new research finds those who live in a city neighborhood are twice as likely to be physically active the those in the suburbs. According to a San Diego State University study published in this month's American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the main factor influencing physical activity around the world is accessibility to sidewalks.

Researchers looked at data from 11,541 survey participants in 11 countries, which included the United States, Lithuania, Brazil, Sweden and Japan. Those individuals who reported living in a city neighborhood with easy access to sidewalks were 15-50 percent more likely to get moderate-to vigorous activity at least five days a week for at least 30 minutes each day.

SDSU professor and lead author Jim Sallis said this is likely because sidewalks can be used for recreation like jogging and in-line skating as well as for transportation, in lieu of using a car or other means of transportation.

"Even in this group of culturally diverse countries, this one factor held consistent," Sallis said. "Many of these activity-friendly neighborhoods also had residential living within a close 10-15 minute walk to recreation facilities, shopping or mass transit stops."

Thanks to Gina Jacobs

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Published on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 in SDSU NewsCenter
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