Physical Activity in the Summer Heat: How Hot Weather Moderates the Relationship Between Built Environment Features and Outdoor Physical Activity of Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Research has not yet examined how hot weather moderates the relationship between the built environment and outdoor physical activity levels. The authors posited that hot days will increase the magnitude of the expected directional effect of built environment features on physical activity. Methods: This longitudinal study included 134 US adults from the Three city Heat and Electrical failure AdapTation study. Adults self-reported physical activity for multiple summer days (nstudy-days = 742) in 2016. Hot days were defined as ≥90th percentile of daily maximum heat index. Built environment features included density, safety, trees, hilliness, connectivity, access to parks, and access to shops + services. Separate growth curve models with interaction terms (ie, hot day × built environment feature) were run for daily minutes of outdoor physical activity (ie, any activity and recommended activity). Results: Neither hot days nor built environment features impacted outdoor physical activity significantly, and hot days did not moderate the relationship between built environment features and physical activity (P > .05). Conclusions: With adults failing to modify behavior on hot days, cities may be placing adults at increased risk of exertional heat illness. The authors recommend incorporating the risk of exertional heat illness in health impact assessments and deploying heat management strategies.

Lanza is with the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, School of Public Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), Austin, TX. Stone and Mallen are with the School of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA. Chakalian is with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Gronlund is with the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Hondula is with the School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Larsen is with the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Haardörfer is with the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

Lanza (kevin.l.lanza@uth.tmc.edu) is corresponding author.
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