Sedentary behaviors of adults in relation to neighborhood walkability and income

Health Psychol. 2012 Nov;31(6):704-13. doi: 10.1037/a0027874. Epub 2012 Apr 30.


Objective: Sedentary (sitting) time is a newly identified risk factor for obesity and chronic diseases, which is behaviorally and physiologically distinct from lack of physical activity. To inform public health approaches to influencing sedentary behaviors, an understanding of correlates is required.

Methods: Participants were 2,199 adults aged 20-66 years living in King County/Seattle, WA, and Baltimore, MD, regions, recruited from neighborhoods high or low on a "walkability index" (derived from objective built environment indicators) and having high or low median incomes. Cross-sectional associations of walkability and income with total sedentary time (measured by accelerometers and by self-report) and with self-reported time in seven specific sitting-related behaviors were examined.

Results: Neighborhood walkability and income were unrelated to measures of total sitting time. Lower neighborhood walkability was significantly associated with more driving time (difference of 18.2 min/day, p < .001) and more self-reported TV viewing (difference of 14.5 min/day, p < .001). Residents of higher income neighborhoods reported more computer/Internet and reading time, and they had more objectively measured sedentary time.

Conclusions: Neighborhood walkability was not related to total sedentary time but was related to two specific sedentary behaviors associated with risk for obesity-driving time and TV viewing time. Future research could examine how these prevalent and often prolonged sedentary behaviors mediate relationships between neighborhood walkability and overweight/obesity. Initiatives to reduce chronic disease risk among residents of both higher-and lower-income low-walkable neighborhoods should include a focus on reducing TV viewing time and other sedentary behaviors and enacting policies that can lead to the development or redevelopment of more-walkable neighborhoods. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Baltimore
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment Design / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Self Report
  • Time Factors
  • Walking*
  • Washington
  • Young Adult