Background: There is a paucity of research examining associations between walking and environmental attributes that are more modifiable in the short term, such as car parking availability, access to transit, neighborhood traffic, walkways and trails, and sidewalks.
Methods: Adults were recruited between April 2004 and September 2006 in the Minneapolis-St Paul metropolitan area and in Montgomery County, Maryland using similar research designs in the two locations. Self-reported and objective environmental measures were calculated for participants' neighborhoods. Self-reported physical activity was collected through the long form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ-LF). Generalized estimating equations were used to examine adjusted associations between environmental measures and transport and overall walking.
Results: Participants (n=887) averaged 47 years of age (SD=13.65) and reported 67 min/week (SD=121.21) of transport walking and 159 min/week (SD=187.85) of non-occupational walking. Perceived car parking difficulty was positively related to higher levels of transport walking (OR 1.41, 95%CI: 1.18, 1.69) and overall walking (OR 1.18, 95%CI: 1.02, 1.37). Self-reported ease of walking to a transit stop was negatively associated with transport walking (OR 0.86, 95%CI: 0.76, 0.97), but this relationship was moderated by perceived access to destinations. Walking to transit also was related to non-occupational walking (OR 0.85, 95%CI: 0.73, 0.99).
Conclusions: Parking difficulty and perceived ease of access to transit are modifiable neighborhood characteristics associated with self-reported walking.