The Relationship between Physical Activity and the Objectively-Measured Built Environment in Low- and High-Income South African Communities

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 7;18(8):3853. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18083853.


There is limited data concerning the built environment and physical activity (PA) in a country with a history of sociopolitically motivated, spatial and economic disparities. We explored the extent to which objectively measured attributes of the built environment were associated with self-report or device-measured PA in low- and high-socioeconomic status (SES) communities.

METHODS: In a convenient sample of residents (n = 52, aged 18-65 years) from four urban suburbs in low- and high-income settings near Cape Town, South Africa, self-reported transport- and leisure-time PA, and device-measured moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) data were collected. Built environment constructs derived from individual-level street network measures (1000 m buffer, ArcGIS, 10.51) were obtained. We assessed PA between four groups, based on income and GIS walkability (derived by a median split, low or high SES and low or high walkable).

RESULTS: No relationships between self-reported MVPA and GIS-measured walkability were found. Only intersection density was significantly, inversely associated with moderate and total MVPA (rho = -0.29 and rho = -0.31, respectively, p < 0.05). In the high SES group, vigorous PA was inversely associated with intersection density (rho = -0.39, p < 0.05). Self-report transport PA differed between groups (p < 0.013).

CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that the construct of walkability may relate to volitional (leisure) and utilitarian (transport) PA differently, in highly inequitable settings.

PMID:33916926 | PMC:PMC8067549 | DOI:10.3390/ijerph18083853