Background: Built-environment attributes of a neighborhood are associated with participation in physical activity and may also influence time spent in sedentary behaviors. Associations of neighborhood walkability (based on dwelling density, street connectivity, land-use mix, and net retail area) and television viewing time were compared in a large, spatially-derived sample of Australian adults.
Methods: Neighborhood-level variables (walkability and socioeconomic status [SES]) were calculated in 154 Australian census collection districts using Geographic Information Systems. Individual-level variables (TV viewing time, time spent in leisure-time physical activity, height, weight, and sociodemographic variables) were collected from adults living in urban areas of Adelaide, Australia using a mail survey (N=2224) in 2003-2004. Multilevel linear regression analysis was conducted in 2006 separately for men and women to examine variations in TV viewing time across tertiles of walkability.
Results: Neighborhood walkability was negatively associated with TV viewing time in women, but not in men. After controlling for neighborhood SES, body mass index, physical activity, and sociodemographic variables, women living in medium- and high-walkable neighborhoods reported significantly less TV viewing time per day (14 minutes and 17 minutes, respectively) compared to those residing in low-walkable neighborhoods.
Conclusions: Built-environment attributes of neighborhoods that are related to physical activity also may play an important role in influencing sedentary behavior, particularly among women. Considering the effects of prolonged sedentary time on health risks, which are independent of physical activity, there is the need for further research to explore how environmental characteristics may contribute to the amount of time spent in sedentary behavior.