Differences in transportation and leisure physical activity by neighborhood design controlling for residential choice

Gavin R. McCormack*, MohammadJavad Koohsari, Koichiro Oka, Christine M. Friedenreich, Anita Blackstaffe, Francisco Uribe Alaniz, Brenlea Farkas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cross-sectional studies provide useful insight about the associations between the built environment and physical activity (PA), particularly when reasons for neighborhood choice are considered. Our study analyzed the relationship between levels of weekly transportation and leisure PA among 3 neighborhood designs, statistically adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and reasons for neighborhood choice. Methods: A stratified random sample of adults (age ≥20 years) living in Calgary (Canada) neighborhoods with different neighborhood designs (grid, warped-grid, and curvilinear) and socioeconomic status completed a self-administered questionnaire capturing PA, sociodemographic characteristics, and reasons for neighborhood choice (response rate = 10.1%; n = 1023). Generalized linear models estimated associations between neighborhood design and transportation and leisure PA outcomes (participation (any vs. none) and volume (metabolic equivalent: h/week)), adjusting for neighborhood socioeconomic status, sociodemographic characteristics (gender, age, ethnicity, education, household income, marital status, children, vehicle access, dog ownership, and injury), and reasons for neighborhood choice (e.g., proximity and quality of recreational and utilitarian destinations, proximity to work, highway access, aesthetics, and sense of community). Results: Overall, 854 participants had resided in their neighborhood for at least 12 months and provided complete data. Compared with those living in curvilinear neighborhoods, grid neighborhood participants had greater odds (p < 0.05) of participating in any transportation walking (odds ratio (OR) = 2.17), transportation and leisure cycling (OR = 2.39 and OR = 1.70), active transportation (OR = 2.16), and high-intensity leisure PA (≥6 metabolic equivalent; OR = 1.74), respectively. There were no neighborhood differences in the volume of any transportation or leisure PA undertaken. Adjustment for neighborhood selection had minimal impact on the statistical or practical importance of model estimates. Conclusion: Neighborhood design is associated with PA patterns in adults, independent of reasons for neighborhood choice and sociodemographic factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-539
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov


  • Active transportation
  • Built environment
  • Self-selection
  • Urban design
  • Walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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