The contribution of travel-related urban zones, cycling and pedestrian networks and green space to commuting physical activity among adults - A cross-sectional population-based study using geographical information systems

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Abstract

Background: The current political agenda aims to promote active environments and physical activity while commuting to work, but research on it has provided mixed results. This study examines whether the proximity of green space and people's residence in different travel-related urban zones contributes to commuting physical activity. Methods: Population-based cross-sectional health examination survey, Health 2011 study, and geographical information system (GIS) data were utilized. The GIS data on green space and travel-related urban zones were linked to the individuals of the Health 2011 study, based on their home geocoordinates. Commuting physical activity was self-reported. Logistic regression models were applied, and age, gender, education, leisure-time and occupational physical activity were adjusted. Analyses were limited to those of working age, living in the core-urban areas of Finland and having completed information on commuting physical activity (n = 2 098). Results: Home location in a pedestrian zone of a main centre (odds ratio = 1.63; 95 % confidence interval = 1.06-2.51) or a pedestrian zone of a sub-centre (2.03; 1.09-3.80) and higher proportion of cycling and pedestrian networks (3.28; 1.71-6.31) contributed to higher levels of commuting physical activity. The contribution remained after adjusting for all the environmental attributes and individuals. Based on interaction analyses, women living in a public transport zone were almost two times more likely to be physically active while commuting compared to men. A high proportion of recreational green space contributed negatively to the levels of commuting physical activity (0.73; 0.57-0.94) after adjusting for several background factors. Based on interaction analyses, individuals aged from 44 to 54 years and living in sub-centres, men living in pedestrian zones of sub-centres, and those individuals who are physically inactive during leisure-time were less likely to be physically active while commuting. Conclusions: Good pedestrian and cycling infrastructure may play an important role in promoting commuting physical activity among the employed population, regardless of educational background, leisure-time and occupational physical activity. Close proximity to green space and a high proportion of green space near the home may not be sufficient to initiate commuting physical activity in Finland, where homes surrounded by green areas are often situated in car-oriented zones far from work places.

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Mäki-Opas, T. E., Borodulin, K., Valkeinen, H., Stenholm, S., Kunst, A. E., Abel, T., … Koskinen, S. (2016). The contribution of travel-related urban zones, cycling and pedestrian networks and green space to commuting physical activity among adults - A cross-sectional population-based study using geographical information systems. BMC Public Health, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-3264-x

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