New study shows a city’s structure affects its physical activity

Apr 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
In this Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, photo, Brett Broviak, a manager of respiratory and sleep services at...

In this Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, photo, Brett Broviak, a manager of respiratory and sleep services at IU Health North Hospital, walks with his Fitbit fitness tracker on the hospital's campus in Carmel, Ind. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

The amount of physical activity performed in a week can vary based on how a city is built, according to a new study.

The report, published in The Lancet, examined physical fitness in 14 cities worldwide. About 7000 people participated in the study by wearing accelerometers. The researchers also studied neighborhood characteristics.

Marc Adams, an assistant professor with Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, was one of the researchers in the study. He said the cities on the higher end of the scale averaged about 90 minutes more of physical activity a week compared to cities on the lower end of the scale. One of the cities that showed a high amount of physical activity was Hong Kong, China, a densely populated city.

“If you wanted to go from point A to point B (in Hong Kong), it’s fairly easy to get on a bus or a ferry and usually people are going to walk to those things,” Adams said.

He said Baltimore, Maryland, a city that features more spread out neighborhoods, had a lower amount of average physical activity. Adams said the city of Phoenix has made strides to encourage more physical activity.

“I think the light rail and the light rail extension are helping people get around more easily,” Adams said. “I think there’s been a pretty impressive change in terms of some of our neighborhoods to help expand sidewalks to make walking more friendly.”

Adams said even more access to public transit and more apartment complexes in downtown Phoenix would mean more shops and a higher rate of walking for residents.

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New study shows a city’s structure affects its physical activity