Can New Urbanism Encourage Physical Activity?

Comparing a New Urbanist Neighborhood with Conventional Suburbs

Journal of the American Planning Association

Results showed no statistically significant differences in physical activity, even after adjusting for individual and household characteristics. However, the authors did detect differences in where people were physically active. Residents of the new urbanist neighborhoods were more likely to be physically active in their neighborhood than were residents of conventional suburbs. This difference was due to their walking more for utilitarian purposes, as distinct from walking for leisure. The increased number of walking trips came at the expense of automobile trips. These findings do not support the hypothesis that residents of new urbanist neighborhoods will be more physically active than residents of conventional neighborhoods. However, the findings do reinforce the idea that bringing origins and destinations closer together is related to increased walking and the incorporation of physical exercise into utilitarian travel, although this may substitute for other physical activity.

Filed in: Engineering, Health, Promoting Walking and Bicycling

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