Is the amount of physical activity we achieve each day related to where we live? A new research study published in The Lancet provides evidence that the answer is yes. The study from the International Physical Activity and Environment Network (IPEN), which included 6822 adults aged 18–66 from 14 cities in 10 countries found that individuals who live in the most activity friendly neighborhoods achieved as much as 90 more minutes of physical activity each week compared to those individuals living in the least activity friendly neighborhoods.
Activity friendly neighborhoods were found to have similar characteristics across all cities and countries. These include a high residential density, a large number of public transportation stops, parks within walking distance, and street intersections that increase walkability. Mixed land use and nearest public transportation did not have a significant influence on activity levels.
The cities or regions included were Ghent (Belgium); Curitiba (Brazil); Bogota (Colombia); Olomouc (Czech Republic); Aarhus (Denmark); Hong Kong (China); Cuernavaca (Mexico), North Shore, Waitakere, Wellington, and Christchurch (New Zealand); Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom); Seattle and Baltimore (United States). The data suggests that Baltimore had the lowest activity rate per day (29.2 minutes) whereas Wellington had the highest activity rate per day (50.1 minutes).
The fact that activity friendly characteristics were consistent across cities and countries furthers the evidence that international strategies can be applied domestically to improve health.
NCCOR continues to engage in work aimed at exploring and understanding efforts aimed at reducing childhood obesity both in the United States and abroad. These efforts include a talk titled, “Global Findings on Promising and Effective Environmental and Policy Strategies to Reduce Childhood Obesity at the Population Level” given by the lead author of this study and a special webinar highlighting a panel discussion focused on innovative programs aimed at increasing physical activity. These initiatives, exploring efforts taking place in other countries, can build the knowledge base and catalyze action both in the United States and abroad.