Do people's environments influence their habitual physical activity? [ 2002 - 2003 ]

Also known as: Environmental influences on physical activity

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Neville Owen (Principal investigator) ,  Prof Adrian Bauman Prof Graeme Hugo

Brief description People seem to prefer to drive to the corner shop rather than walking. Or, they will drive the car to work instead of walking to the bus or train. Or, they send off e-mails instead of walking down the corridor at work. The result is that people are not using up the energy that they should and they get fatter. The average weight of many groups of Australians has gone up by several kilograms in the past 10 years. Active people not only have healthier weights. They are less likely to get heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. But too many people do no exercise at all. Only about 10% of Australians adults do fitness and sporting activities three or more times a week. More than half do not walk, cycle or do anything moderately active on any regular basis. To get people to be regularly active and to stay active, promoting deliberate 'exercise' is not the answer. Making it easier for people to choose to be more active as they go about their daily lives will be more effective. Road transport researchers and geographers have a lot to offer to health researchers. They have found that where there are footpaths and cycle ways, where shops and businesses are close by or where the roads make it easy and safe to get from place to place, people are much more likely to walk or ride bikes. We can now use large, complex computerised databases (called Geographic Information Systems) to put together this type of information on peoples' local environments. We will combine these 'geographic' data with other information from surveys on people's physical activity, exercise and transport habits. Starting our research in this way, we will be able to work out whether there are factors in people's local environments that really do make them less active. Governments, health planners and local councils will use this information to find ways to create communities that are more activity-friendly. This will have real health benefits.

Funding Amount $AUD 196,650.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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