Background: Manipulating the physical environment may be an efficacious way to promote physical activity. This study examined the relationships between features of the neighborhood environment and walking in the neighborhood by U.S. adults.
Methods: A random sample of women (n =266) and men (n =208) aged >18 years participated. Door-to-door interviews were conducted in 2003 to collect information about demographics, walking behavior, and features of the neighborhood environment.
Results: The analyses conducted in 2004 revealed that women were more likely to walk for exercise (odds ratio [OR]=4.6, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.01-20.72) or walk a dog (OR=3.3, 95% CI=1.01-11.08) in the neighborhood if neighborhood safety was average as opposed to below average (p <0.05). Women with an average number of neighborhood destinations were more likely to walk for transportation in the neighborhood (OR=5.7, 95% CI=1.63-19.73) than women with a below average number of neighborhood destinations (p <0.01). In men, none of the neighborhood features were significantly associated with walking for exercise or walking a dog. Men were less likely to walk for transportation in the neighborhood if the functional (OR=0.22, 95% CI=0.06-0.89) or aesthetic (OR=0.17, 95% CI=0.03-0.89) features of the neighborhood were average versus below average.
Conclusions: Prospective studies are needed to determine if changes in neighborhood safety and awareness of neighborhood destinations promote increases in walking by women. Evaluations of the relationships between other environmental features and walking behavior in men are warranted.