Public open spaces and walking for recreation: Moderation by attributes of pedestrian environments

Takemi Sugiyama, Catherine Paquet, Natasha J. Howard, Neil T. Coffee, Anne W. Taylor, Robert J. Adams, Mark Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study examined whether attributes of pedestrian environments moderate the relationships between access to public open spaces (POS) and adults' recreational walking. Methods: Data were collected from participants of the North West Adelaide Health Study in 2007. Recreational walking was determined using self-reported walking frequency. Measures of POS access (presence, count, and distance to the nearest POS) were assessed using a Geographic Information System. Pedestrian environmental attributes included aesthetics, walking infrastructure, barrier/traffic, crime concern, intersection density, and access to walking trails. Regression analyses examined whether associations between POS access and recreational walking were moderated by pedestrian environmental attributes. Results: The sample included 1574 participants (45% men, mean age: 55). POS access measures were not associated with recreational walking. However, aesthetics, walking infrastructure, and access to walking trail were found to moderate the POS-walking relationships. The presence of POS was associated with walking among participants with aesthetically pleasing pedestrian environments. Counter-intuitively, better access to POS was associated with recreational walking for those with poorer walking infrastructure or no access to walking trails. Conclusion: Local pedestrian environments moderate the relationships between access to POS and recreational walking. Our findings suggest the presence of complex relationships between POS availability and pedestrian environments.

Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • Effect modification
  • Environment
  • Park
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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