Walkability parameters, active transportation and objective physical activity: moderating and mediating effects of motor vehicle ownership in a cross-sectional study

Eriksson, Ulf, Arvidsson, Daniel, Gebel, Klaus, Ohlsson, Henrik, and Sundquist, Kristina (2012) Walkability parameters, active transportation and objective physical activity: moderating and mediating effects of motor vehicle ownership in a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9. pp. 1-10.

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Abstract

Background: Neighborhood walkability has been associated with physical activity in several studies. However, as environmental correlates of physical activity may be context specific, walkability parameters need to be investigated separately in various countries and contexts. Furthermore, the mechanisms by which walkability affects physical activity have been less investigated. Based on previous research, we hypothesized that vehicle ownership is a potential mediator. We investigated the associations between walkability parameters and physical activity, and the mediating and moderating effects of vehicle ownership on these associations in a large sample of Swedish adults.

Methods: Residential density, street connectivity and land use mix were assessed within polygon-based network buffers (using Geographic Information Systems) for 2,178 men and women. Time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity was assessed by accelerometers, and walking and cycling for transportation were assessed by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Associations were examined by linear regression and adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics. The product of coefficients approach was used to investigate the mediating effect of vehicle ownership.

Results: Residential density and land use mix, but not street connectivity, were significantly associated with time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity and walking for transportation. Cycling for transportation was not associated with any of the walkability parameters. Vehicle ownership mediated a significant proportion of the association between the walkability parameters and physical activity outcomes. For residential density, vehicle ownership mediated 25% of the association with moderate to vigorous physical activity and 20% of the association with the amount of walking for transportation. For land use mix, the corresponding proportions were 34% and 14%. Vehicle ownership did not moderate any of the associations between the walkability parameters and physical activity outcomes.

Conclusions: Residential density and land use mix were associated with time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity and walking for transportation. Vehicle ownership was a mediator but not a moderator of these associations. The present findings may be useful for policy makers and city planners when designing neighborhoods that promote physical activity.

Item ID: 36741
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: accelerometer, neighborhood walkability, Geographic information system, mediator, moderator
ISSN: 1479-5868
Funders: Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning
Projects and Grants: Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS 2006–0386), Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas 2006–1196)
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2014 02:13
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111712 Health Promotion @ 70%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety @ 15%
12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120508 Urban Design @ 15%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 80%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920405 Environmental Health @ 20%
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