Perceived environment attributes, residential location and walking for particular purposes
BACKGROUND: Identifying environmental factors that can influence physical activity is a public health priority. We examined associations of perceived environmental attributes with walking for four different purposes: general neighborhood walking, walking for exercise, walking for pleasure, and walking to get to and from places. METHODS: Participants (n =399; 57% women) were surveyed by mail. They reported place of residence, walking behaviors, and perceptions of neighborhood environmental attributes. RESULTS: Men with the most positive perceptions of neighborhood "aesthetics" were significantly more likely (odds ratio [OR]=7.4) to be in the highest category of neighborhood walking. Men who perceived the weather as not inhibiting their walking were much more likely (OR=4.7) to be high exercise walkers. Women who perceived the weather as not inhibiting their walking were significantly more likely to be high neighborhood walkers (OR=3.8) and those with moderate perceptions of "accessibility" were much more likely to do more walking for pleasure (OR=3.5). CONCLUSIONS: Different environmental attributes were associated with different types of walking and these differed between men and women. Approaches to increasing physical activity might usefully focus on those attributes of the local environment that might influence particular subsets of walking behavior.