Environmental effects on walking behavior have received attention in recent years because of the potential for policy interventions to increase population levels of walking. Most epidemiologic studies describe associations of walking behavior with environmental features. These analyses ignore the dynamic processes that shape walking behaviors. A spatial agent-based model (ABM) was developed to simulate people's walking behaviors within a city. Each individual was assigned properties such as age, SES, walking ability, attitude toward walking and a home location. Individuals perform different activities on a regular basis such as traveling for work, for basic needs, and for leisure. Whether an individual walks and the amount she or he walks is a function of distance to different activities and her/his walking ability and attitude toward walking. An individual's attitude toward walking evolves over time as a function of past experiences, walking of others along the walking route, limits on distances walked per day, and attitudes toward walking of the other individuals within her/his social network. The model was calibrated and used to examine the contributions of land use and safety to socioeconomic differences in walking. With further refinement and validation, ABMs may help to better understand the determinants of walking and identify the most promising interventions to increase walking.
Copyright © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.