Finding features that support exercise in workplace neighborhoods

Study among first to examine associations between home, workplace built environments and physical activity

Neighborhood features such as bike facilities and low crime rates are associated with increased leisure and workplace-related physical activity, according to a new study from the Prevention Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis.


Researchers conducted telephone interviews with 2,015 adults in four metropolitan areas of Missouri in 2012-13. Those interviewed were asked about what would encourage them to engage in physical activity near their homes and workplaces.

Researchers found that seven of 12 built environment
features in parks and on greenways, such as “interesting things to look
at,” were associated with leisure physical activity. Associations
between workplace neighborhoods’ features and physical activity were
fewer but also supported physical activity.

The Prevention Research Center (PRC) is a

a collaboration between the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine and Brown School and Saint Louis University School of Public Health.

“Our findings suggest that diverse, attractive and walkable neighborhoods around workplaces support walking, bicycling and use of public transit,” wrote co-author J. Aaron Hipp, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School and PRC faculty member.

The study is among the first to examine associations between home and workplace built environments and physical activity.

Exercise rates among urban residents of the U.S. are declining; fewer than 50 percent of adults and 40 percent of youth meet U.S. guidelines for physical activity.

The study was published online Nov. 6 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Co-authors on the study were Hipp; Deepti Adlakha, a PhD-candidate at the Brown School; Christine Marx, project coordinator at the Prevention Research Center; Lin Yang, PhD, postdoctoral research associate at the PRC; Rachel Tabak, PhD, research assistant professor at the Brown School; Elizabeth Dodson, PhD, research assistant professor at the Brown School; and Ross Brownson, PhD, the Bernard Becker Professor and PRC co-director.

Hipp, Brownson, Tabak and Dodson are also scholars in the university’s Institute for Public Health.