Walkability is only part of the story: walking for transportation in Stuttgart, Germany

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 May 30;11(6):5849-65. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110605849.


In modern Western societies people often lead inactive and sedentary lifestyles, even though there is no doubt that physical activity and health are related. From an urban planning point of view it would be highly desirable to develop built environments in a way that supports people in leading more active and healthy lifestyles. Within this context there are several methods, predominantly used in the US, to measure the suitability of built environments for walking and cycling. Empirical studies show that people living in highly walkable areas are more physically active (for example, walk more or cycle more). The question is, however, whether these results are also valid for European cities given their different urban planning characteristics and infrastructure standards. To answer this question we used the Walkability-Index and the Walk Score to empirically investigate the associations between walkability and active transportation in the city of Stuttgart, Germany. In a sample of household survey data (n = 1.871) we found a noticeable relationship between walkability and active transportation-the more walkable an area was, the more active residents were. Although the statistical effect is small, the health impact might be of relevance. Being physically active is multi-determined and not only affected by the walkability of an area. We highlight these points with an excursion into research that the health and exercise sciences contribute to the topic. We propose to strengthen interdisciplinary research between the disciplines and to specifically collect data that captures the influence of the environment on physical activity in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Environment Design*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Walking* / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult