Promoting active community environments through land use and transportation planning

Am J Health Promot. 2007 Mar-Apr;21(4 Suppl):397-407. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-21.4s.397.


Purpose: To examine the role of land use and transportation plans as policy instruments for promoting active community environments.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis using multilevel models to examine whether active community environment scores were associated with leisure and transportation-related physical activity (PA) and whether associations varied by household income.

Setting: 67 North Carolina counties

Subjects: Adults (n = 6694) from pooled 2000 and 2002 North Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys.

Measures: Active community environment scores, derived from a 2003 survey of planning directors, representing the presence of nonmotorized transportation improvements, mixed land use classification, and comprehensiveness of implementation tools. Dependent variables were self-reported PA measures from the BRFSS. Sociodemographic variables were derived from the 2000 U.S. Census of Population.

Results: After adjustment for sociodemographic factors, more favorable active community environment scores were significantly associated with leisure PA (p = .001), transportation PA (p < .01), bicycling (p < .05), walking 150 minutes/week (p < .001), and meeting PA recommendations (p < .0001). In stratified analyses, lower-income individuals (<$25, 000) living in high scoring counties were three times more likely to participate in transportation PA compared with those living in low scoring counties (95% confidence interval, 1.4, 7.3).

Conclusions: This study identifies previously unexamined policy and institutional correlates of PA related to land use and transportation planning. Plans may provide a means to incorporate community support for active living into public policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • City Planning*
  • Community Health Planning*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment Design*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • North Carolina
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Justice
  • Transportation