Are Perceptions about Worksite Neighborhoods and Policies Associated with Walking?

Getting the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days can be a challenge for working adults. Could the characteristics of the built environment around worksites and supportive workplace policies make a difference in motivating workers to walk more?

Researchers in Montgomery, Md., invited residents to participate in a survey, wear pedometers and self-report their physical activity and walking at work. The researchers rated workplace community zones according to numerous characteristics that were supportive or not of walking. Among those supportive of walking at work: few cul de sacs; many four-way intersections; and the presence of sidewalks, pedestrian signals and trees. The respondents also answered questions about worksite policies that are conducive to physical activity.

The survey determined that no built environment characteristic was associated with walking more than the median number of average weekday steps measured. The authors offered possible explanations why the more pedestrian-friendly environments did not correspond with higher measured step counts: the high-socioeconomic-status respondents (78% reported household income more than $80,000) likely had ample access to opportunities for physical activity inside and outside the worksite.