Moving to an Activity-Friendly Community Can Increase Physical Activity. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Creating activity-friendly communities (AFCs) is an important strategy to increase physical activity (PA). While cross-sectional links between community environments and PA are well documented, their causal relationships remain insufficiently explored. METHODS: Using the accelerometer and survey data collected from adults who moved to an AFC (cases) and similar non-AFC-residing adults who did not move (comparisons), this pre-post, case-comparison study examines if moving to an AFC increases PA. Data came from 115 participants (cases = 37, comparisons = 78) from Austin, Texas, who completed 2 waves of 1-weeklong data collection. Difference-in-difference analyses and fixed-effect models were used to test the significance of the pre-post differences in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) between cases and comparisons, for the full sample and the subsample of 37 pairs matched in key covariates using the Propensity Score Matching method. RESULTS: Average treatment effect generated based on Propensity Score Matching and difference-in-difference showed that moving to this AFC led to an average of 10.88 additional minutes of daily MVPA (76.16 weekly minutes, P = .015). Fixed-effect models echoed the result with an increase of 10.39minutes of daily MVPA after moving to the AFC. We also found that case participants who were less active at baseline and had higher income increased their MVPA more than their counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that, among our study sample, moving to an AFC increased residents' PA significantly when compared to their premove level and the comparison group. This causal evidence suggests the potential of AFCs as sustainable interventions for PA promotion.

published proceedings

  • J Phys Act Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, C., Xu, M., Zhu, X., Towne, S. D., Sang, H., Lee, H., & Ory, M. G.

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Chanam||Xu, Minjie||Zhu, Xuemei||Towne, Samuel D||Sang, Huiyan||Lee, Hanwool||Ory, Marcia G

publication date

  • August 2023