Authors: Keats, M., Cui, Y., DeClercq, V., Grandy, S., Sweeney, E., Dummer, TJB. (2020)
Background: While neighborhood walkability has been shown to positively influence health behaviors, less is known about its impact on chronic disease. Our aim was to examine the association between walkability and self-reported physical activity in relation to chronic health conditions in an Atlantic Canadian population.
Methods: Using data from the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health, a prospective cohort study, we employed both a cross-sectional and a prospective analytical approach to investigate associations of walkability and physical activity with five prevalent chronic diseases and multimorbidity.
Results: The cross-sectional data show that participants with the lowest neighborhood walkability were more likely to have reported a pre-existing history of cancer and depression and least likely to report chronic respiratory conditions. Participants with low physical activity were more likely to have a pre-existing history of diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and multimorbidity. Follow-up analyses showed no significant associations between walkability and chronic disease incidence. Low levels of physical activity were significantly associated with diabetes, cancer and multimorbidity.
Conclusions: Our data provides evidence for the health protective benefits of higher levels of physical activity, and a reduction in prevalence of some chronic diseases in more walkable communities.