Changes in Perceptions of the Near-Home Walking Environment Among US Adults—2015 and 2020 National Health Interview Survey

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Graycie W. Soto Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Research Participation Program, Oak Ridge, TN, USA

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Geoffrey P. Whitfield Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

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Akimi Smith Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

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David Berrigan Health Behaviors Research Branch, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD, USA

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Janet E. Fulton Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

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Background: The built environments in which we work, live, and play can influence physical activity behaviors, and perceptions of these environments are associated with walking behavior. This study’s objective is to compare national-level data on perceptions of the near-home walking environment from the 2015 and 2020 National Health Interview Survey. Methods: Adults in 2015 (n = 30,811) and 2020 (n = 29,636) reported perceptions of walkable supports (roads, sidewalks, paths, or trails; sidewalks on most streets), destinations (shops, stores, or markets; bus or transit stops; movies, libraries, or churches; places that help you relax, clear your mind, and reduce stress), and barriers to walking (traffic; crime; animals). Age-adjusted prevalence estimates, prevalence differences, and 95% confidence intervals were calculated overall and by demographic characteristics. Results: The reported prevalence of roads, sidewalks, paths, or trails for walking increased overall (85.3% in 2015 to 88.0% in 2020) and for many subgroups. Perceived places to walk to for relaxation, to clear your mind, and to reduce stress increased overall (72.1% in 2015 to 77.1% in 2020) and for all subgroups. Perceptions of crime as a barrier to walking decreased overall (12.5% in 2015 to 11.2% in 2020) and for some subgroups. From 2015 to 2020, the proportion of adults perceiving roads, sidewalks, paths, or trails; places to relax; and crime as a barrier to walking improved. Conclusions: Continuing to monitor perceptions of the walking environment could contribute to progress toward national walking and walkability goals in the United States.

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