Walkability and physical activity

Authored by: Jana A. Hirsch , Meghan Winters

Routledge Handbook of Health Geography

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138098046
eBook ISBN: 9781315104584
Adobe ISBN:


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Walkability has become an important research area across the fields of geography, public health, urban planning and transportation. Walkable neighborhoods, characterized by density, land-use diversity and well-connected transportation networks, may encourage walking for daily activities among residents. Currently, physical inactivity is the fourth leading underlying cause of mortality worldwide, with an estimated 3.3 million deaths annually due to inactivity (World Health Organization, 2009). Individual characteristics such as age, gender and attitudes are important determinants of physical activity. More recently, neighborhood contexts have also been recognized to promote or discourage physical activity. Since walking is linked with significant health benefits at the population level, such as reduced rates of chronic disease, walkability has emerged as an important policy intervention (Giles-Corti et al., 2016; Sallis et al., 2016).

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