Introduction Physical inactivity is among the most important and prevalent risk factors of many major diseases in developed countries. Knowing why people are physically inactive is therefore of key importance in developing strategies to reduce these major diseases. Active commuting is a cheap and easy way to incorporate regular physical activity into daily life. The purpose of this study was to identify what individual and environmental factors are associated with active commuting.
Methods Cross-sectional data were obtained from residents (age 25–75) of 87 neighbourhoods in the city of Eindhoven, the Netherlands, who participated in the GLOBE study in 2004 (N=2474). We used multilevel logistic regression models to analyse associations of perceived neighbourhood factors (attractiveness, safety) and individual cognitions regarding physical activity (attitude, self-efficacy, intention, social influence) with active commuting (yes/no).
Results People with a positive attitude, a high self-efficacy, a strong intention to be physically active, and positive social support, were more likely to engage in active commuting. People reporting to sometimes feel unsafe in their neighbourhood were less likely to engage in active commuting compared to those who perceived their neighbourhood as safe. Perceived neighbourhood attractiveness was not significantly associated with active commuting.
Conclusion When stimulating active commuting, it is important to focus on changing individual cognitions towards physical activity. Environmental changes, for example, improving neighbourhood safety may also increase active commuting. Future studies should identify more potentially relevant neighbourhood factors.
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