Some characteristics of a residential built environment – like walkability, park proximity, and public transport – can impact physical activity rates, but the impact may be more complex than previously understood and vary between weekends and weekdays, according to a fascinating new study published in PLOS ONE using data from the ENABLE London Study.

people standing beside train
Photo by Leon Warnking on

Some Key Findings

– Proximity to a local park only impacted physical activity levels on weekends

– Proximity to a metropolitan park (i.e. community sports fields) only impacted physical activity levels on weekdays

– Participants who lived closer to public transport accumulated FEWER steps on weekdays than those living farther from public transportation options

“The intertwinement of spatial and temporal patterns of human activities unveiled here suggests that PA behaviours are shaped by broad contextual forces that go beyond the simple assessment of what is physically accessible from home,” concluded the study authors. 

Why It Matters – A powerful research consensus has shown that the built environment can positively impact physical activity rates. This type of built environment, however, can be costly and require a large public investment. Studies like the one summarized here, that add to a more layered understanding of the relationship between the built environment and physical activity, will help advocates prepare stronger proposals for public investment and result in a greater community impact.