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Jason Vargo, Brian Stone and Karen Glanz

Background:

We investigate the association of different composite walkability measures with individual walking behaviors to determine if multicomponent metrics of walkability are more useful for assessing the health impacts of the built environment than single component measures.

Methods:

We use a previously published composite walkability measure as well as a new measure that was designed to represent easier methods of combination and which includes 2 metrics obtained using Google data sources. Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between walking behavior and walkability metrics.

Results:

Our results suggest that composite measures of walkability are more consistent predictors of walking behavior than single component measures. Furthermore, a walkability measure developed using free, publicly available data from Google was found to be nearly as effective in predicting walking outcomes as a walkability measure derived without such publicly and nationally available measures.

Conclusions:

Our findings demonstrate the effectiveness of free and locally relevant data for assessing walkable environments. This facilitates the use of locally derived and adaptive tools for evaluating the health impacts of the built environment.

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Kevin Lanza, Brian Stone Jr, Paul M. Chakalian, Carina J. Gronlund, David M. Hondula, Larissa Larsen, Evan Mallen and Regine Haardörfer

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.