Physical activity is one of the most important determinants of our cardiovascular risk, and not being active is responsible for more than 5 million deaths per year worldwide.
Professor Sallis from the University of California, San Diego, published an interesting article in the Lancet in 2016 outlining the importance of our neighbourhoods with different levels of walkability in influencing the amount of physical activity of the people living in those neighbourhoods.
They studied 14 cities in 10 countries on 5 continents and assessed the average daily minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity of its residents.
Interestingly, these cities include North Shore, Waitakere, Wellington, and Christchurch; AND Wellington scored highest average physical activity amongst the cities, which also include, Australia (Adelaide), Belgium (Ghent), Brazil (Curitiba), Colombia (Bogota), Czech Republic (Olomouc and HradecKralove), Denmark (Aarhus), China (Hong Kong), Mexico (Cuernavaca), Spain (Pamplona), the UK (Stoke-on-Trent), and the USA (Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD).
They found that physical activities are increased by:
- Higher residential density
- Higher pedestrian-accessible street intersection density
- More public transport
- More accessible parks
While these factors may not be easily modifiable and may appear irrelevant on the individual level on first sight, such awareness may give us ongoing and long-term diverse perspectives in evaluating existing urban and living environments, which not only influence how we live our daily lives, but also determine how well (and healthy) our lives are.
Sallis et al. Physical activity in relation to urban environments in 14 cities worldwide: a cross-sectional study. Lancet 2016; 387: 2207–17.
Author: Andrew To