Neighbourhood design and physical activity Academic Article uri icon


  • Health problems related to physical inactivity have become a global health challenge affecting people from the full spectrum of income, age, and ethnicity. This paper examines if neighbourhood environments are associated with physical activity, especially walking and cycling. It analyses 608 respondent survey data from Washington State in the US and Geographic Information System-derived measures of the neighbourhood environment. Respondents reported traffic volume to be the most significant barrier, and good lighting to be the most important facilitator of walking and cycling. Utilitarian destinations, such as grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores and convenience stores, were significant correlates of walking and moderate-intensity physical activities, while housing type, sports facility and transportation infrastructure were correlated with vigorous physical activities. Active people rated higher for their neighbourhood attributes including safety, visual quality, knowing neighbours, seeing many other people walking and cycling, and the availability of sports facilities, parks, and bike racks. Simple interventions such as street lighting, pavements/sidewalks, street trees, benches, bike lanes or trails, bike racks, and traffic-calming devices appeared to hold some promise in promoting physical activities in neighbourhoods. Long-term solutions should include strategies to enhance overall aesthetics, safety, accessibility, street connectivity, and social interactions among neighbours.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 9

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, C., & Moudon, A. V.

citation count

  • 101

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Chanam||Moudon, Anne Vernez

publication date

  • January 2008