Physical Environmental Factors Associated with Physical Activity in Young People
The physical environment encompasses natural and built environments. The natural environment refers to the geography and climate of a particular area, such as bodies of water, weather, natural landscapes and topography. This chapter focuses on the links between physical activity and the built environment around the home, commonly known as the neighborhood built environment. The physical environment is an important part of socio-ecological perspectives often used as a theoretical basis to understand and encourage the adoption of a physically active lifestyle. Research on the neighborhood physical environment and physical activity among children and youth has evolved rapidly over the past few decades. A seminal study published in 1990 on children’s independent mobility on school journeys was among the earliest work to explore the role of the environment in shaping children’s physical activity. Audit techniques are typically used to objectively and systematically measure or record features of the physical environment, including features related to community design, streetscapes or routes.