Co-benefits of designing communities for active living: an exploration of literature

Sallis, James F., Spoon, Chad, Cavill, Nick, Engelberg, Jessa K., Gebel, Klaus, Parker, Mike, Thornton, Christina M., Lou, Debbie, Wilson, Amanda L., Cutter, Carmen L., and Ding, Ding (2015) Co-benefits of designing communities for active living: an exploration of literature. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12. 30. pp. 1-10.

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Abstract

To reverse the global epidemic of physical inactivity that is responsible for more than 5 million deaths per year, many groups recommend creating "activity-friendly environments." Such environments may have other benefits, beyond facilitating physical activity, but these potential co-benefits have not been well described. The purpose of the present paper is to explore a wide range of literature and conduct an initial summary of evidence on co-benefits of activity-friendly environments. An extensive but non-systematic review of scientific and "gray" literature was conducted. Five physical activity settings were defined: parks/open space/trails, urban design, transportation, schools, and workplaces/buildings. Several evidence-based activity-friendly features were identified for each setting. Six potential outcomes/co-benefits were searched: physical health, mental health, social benefits, safety/injury prevention, environmental sustainability, and economics. A total of 418 higher-quality findings were summarized. The overall summary indicated 22 of 30 setting by outcome combinations showed "strong" evidence of co-benefits. Each setting had strong evidence of at least three co-benefits, with only one occurrence of a net negative effect. All settings showed the potential to contribute to environmental sustainability and economic benefits. Specific environmental features with the strongest evidence of multiple co-benefits were park proximity, mixed land use, trees/greenery, accessibility and street connectivity, building design, and workplace physical activity policies/programs. The exploration revealed substantial evidence that designing community environments that make physical activity attractive and convenient is likely to produce additional important benefits. The extent of the evidence justifies systematic reviews and additional research to fill gaps.

Item ID: 37838
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1479-5868
Keywords: healthy communities, physical activity, built environment, parks, trails, land use, urban design, schools, workplace, transportation
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© 2015 Sallis et al.; licensee BioMed Central.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Funders: Nike, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2015 02:17
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 80%
12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120508 Urban Design @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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