Researchers at St. Louis University developed a series of measurement tools to assess how a community's design and environment influence the kind of physical activity in which residents participate. The study explored which community features appear to increase residents' physical activity levels and which seem to be less influential.
Land use factors were the strongest predictors of the type of physical activity that residents pursued.
There was no significant relationship between the aesthetic features of the community or the general social environment and the types of physical activity that residents pursued.
A community's environmental features appeared to have a greater effect on promoting transportation-related physical activity than it did promoting recreational physical activity.
Longitudinal studies are needed to further define the relationship between the community environment and physical activity.
Future research should measure recreation-related and transportation-related physical activity.
Teasing out which environmental features independently promote physical activity is difficult, because some features are ubiquitous across different communities.