Promoting physical activity is a public health priority, and changes in the environmental
contexts of adults' activity choices are believed to be crucial. However, of the factors
associated with physical activity, environmental influences are among the least understood.
Using journal scans and computerized literature database searches, we identified 19
quantitative studies that assessed the relationships with physical activity behavior
of perceived and objectively determined physical environment attributes. Findings
were categorized into those examining five categories: accessibility of facilities,
opportunities for activity, weather, safety, and aesthetic attributes.
Accessibility, opportunities, and aesthetic attributes had significant associations
with physical activity. Weather and safety showed less-strong relationships. Where
studies pooled different categories to create composite variables, the associations
were less likely to be statistically significant.
Physical environment factors have consistent associations with physical activity behavior.
Further development of ecologic and environmental models, together with behavior-specific
and context-specific measurement strategies, should help in further understanding
of these associations. Prospective studies are required to identify possible causal