Measuring Physical Activity Environments

This article provides a history of research on built environments, including contributions from health, planning and leisure studies. The authors focus on the groundwork laid by research conducted before 2000.

Key Findings:

  • Researchers from health fields generally focused on factors that related built environments to physical activity. Settings were most often schools, workplaces and recreational sites.
  • Researchers in city planning used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to assess community design and walkability.
  • Researchers of recreation and leisure identified and studied uses of leisure time.

Each discipline made important contributions to the field of built environment research and current research efforts are strengthened by a multidisciplinary approach.