Background Neighbourhood deprivation is associated with physical activity but it is not known whether the locations where physical activity takes place also varies by deprivation. The Forty Area Study (FAST) combined Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology with accelerometery in UK adults to measure actual locations in which physical activity takes place. We evaluate what proportion of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) is spent in different locations according to neighbourhood deprivation.
Methods 1084 adults from Northwest England took part. Each participant’s activity levels were recorded for 7 days using an accelerometer. A quarter of our participants also wore a GPS device. The accelerometer and GPS data were integrated into a Geographical Information System (GIS) containing information on the participants’ home locations and the locations where physical activity was recorded. We then examined the land uses where participants undertook their MVPA.
Results Respondents in the most deprived neighbourhoods undertook a greater proportion of their MVPA in and around their home location, in buildings, on the road network and in shopping areas compared to respondents from the most affluent neighbourhoods. The proportion of MVPA undertaken in green space was considerably higher in the most affluent compared to the most deprived neighbourhoods (28.9% vs. 8.8%). The places where people undertake physical activity vary according to neighbourhood deprivation suggesting differences in the purpose of activity and access to places for physical activity.
Conclusion Understanding where people undertake their physical activity provides valuable insights into the types of land uses that are important for physical activity and how they vary according to an area based indicator of socio-economic status.