The Built Environment and Transport-Related Physical Activity: What We Do and Do Not Know

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Leisure time physical activities have been a priority in recent years for many health practitioners, with transport-related physical activity (TPA) largely ignored. The urban environment has altered in the last few decades, increasing the reliance on automobiles. Simultaneously we have seen increases in obesity and other non-communicable diseases related to sedentary lifestyles.

Methods:

Information was sourced from major health databases. The remainder of the literature was directed from citations in articles accessed from the initial search.

Results:

Clear health benefits result from regular TPA engagement, with opportunities closely linked to accessible urban design infrastructure. Much of the existing evidence, however, has been extracted from cross-sectional research, rather than interventions. As such, drawing causal relationships is not yet possible.

Conclusions:

Existing evidence necessitates TPA research and promotion should be public health and urban design priorities. Collaborative research needs to incorporate prospective study designs to understand TPA behavior.

The authors are with the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland 1020, New Zealand.

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