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research round-up
Pavements are the key to physical activity in towns and cities, and
could be the answer to boosting public health, say researchers
chasing pavements
W
hile health clubs are
ideal places to work out
for those living in urban
jungles – who are often
starved of outside space in which to
exercise – it’s no secret that something
else is needed to get more people more
active across the world.
A new study by the San Diego State
University has suggested that designing
neighbourhoods to support a number of
physical activities, such as walking and
cycling, could be the answer.
The research, part of which was
published in the June issue of the
American Journal of Preventative Medicine,
.COM/RENÉ MANSI
T
O
found that people who live in city
neighbourhoods close to stores,
transport stops, pavements, bicycle
OCKPHO
facilities and low-cost recreational
©IST
facilities could be twice as likely to get Having access to pavements helps people meet physical activity guidelines
enough exercise as people who have no
access to these amenities. administered questionnaire, based on to cycle-ways, and access to low-cost
The lead author James Sallis, a their previous weeks’ movements. recreational facilities.
professor at the university, has called for Country-specifi c examples were given People who had all of the favourable
the fi ndings to be considered as a public to help them recall activities with an neighbourhood attributes were twice
health priority across the globe. appropriate intensity level – individuals as likely to meet the physical activity
were considered to do enough exercise recommendations as those who lived
gathering data if they reported doing moderate-to- in neighbourhoods with no activity-
Previous studies have also shown how vigorous activity at least fi ve days a week friendly amenities, or in neighbourhoods
people living in communities for at least 30 minutes each day. designed for cars. The possibility of
characterised by mixed land use (such as getting more exercise increased with
shops and houses) and well-connected the results each extra amenity available.
street networks are more active, but Seventy-seven per cent of participants in Sallis concludes: “Many countries
these have been limited to just one the study met the guidelines for physical are building new developments to
country. This study looked at data from activity. It was found that having access accommodate car travel without enough
11,541 survey participants from 11 to pavements was the single most attention to walking and biking. Our
countries including the US, Lithuania, important factor for physical activity, study results are a warning that such
Brazil, Sweden, New Zealand and Japan. possibly because people use them for neighbourhoods could be hazardous for
The majority of respondents (70 recreation including jogging and roller health, and policies to promote activity-
per cent) lived in towns and cities with blading, as well as for transportation. friendly developments are needed.
populations of 30,000 or more. The The next most influential contributor “A specifi c recommendation for the
genders were well balanced and ages to physical activity was having a public health club industry is to locate your
ranged from 20–64 years. transport stop within a 15-minute facilities so your patrons can walk, bike or
The amount of physical activity people walking distance of home. This was take public transport there, thus helping
did was gathered via an interviewer- followed by having shops close by, access them get even more physical activity.”
july 2009 © cybertrek 2009 Read Health Club Management online 65
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