A systematic review on the associations between the built environment and adult’s physical activity in global tropical and subtropical climate regions

Carina Nigg*, Shaima A. Alothman, Abdullah F. Alghannam, Jasper Schipperijn, Reem AlAhmed, Reem F. Alsukait, Severin Rakic, Volkan Cetinkaya, Hazzaa M. Al-Hazzaa, Saleh A. Alqahtani


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Background: Physical inactivity is a major public health concern, exacerbated in countries with a (sub)tropical climate. The built environment can facilitate physical activity; however, current evidence is mainly from North American and European countries with activity-friendly climate conditions. This study explored associations between built environment features and physical activity in global tropical or subtropical dry or desert climate regions. Methods: A systematic review of four major databases (Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, and SportDISCUS) was performed. To be included, studies had to investigate associations between perceived or objective built environment characteristics and adult’s physical activity and had to be conducted in a location with (sub)tropical climate. Each investigated association was reported as one case and results were synthesized based upon perceived and objectively assessed environment characteristics as well as Western and non-Western countries. Study quality was evaluated using a tool designed for assessing studies on built environment and physical activity. Results: Eighty-four articles from 50 studies in 13 countries with a total of 2546 built environment-physical activity associations were included. Design (connectivity, walking/cycling infrastructure), desirability (aesthetics, safety), and destination accessibility were the built environment characteristics most frequently associated with physical activity across the domains active transport, recreational physical activity, total walking and cycling, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, particularly if multiple attributes were present at the same time. Very few studies assessed built environment attributes specifically relevant to physical activity in (sub)tropical climates. Most studies were conducted in Western countries, with results being largely comparable with non-Western countries. Findings were largely generalizable across gender and age groups. Results from natural experiments indicated that relocating to an activity-friendly neighborhood impacted sub-groups differently. Conclusions: Built environment attributes, including destination accessibility, connectivity, walking and cycling infrastructure, safety, and aesthetics, are positively associated with physical activity in locations with (sub)tropical climate. However, few studies focus on built environment attributes specifically relevant in a hot climate, such as shade or indoor recreation options. Further, there is limited evidence from non-Western countries, where most of the urban population lives in (sub)tropical climates. Policy makers should focus on implementing activity-friendly environment attributes to create sustainable and climate-resilient cities.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - 21. maj 2024

Bibliografisk note

Publisher Copyright:
© King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 2024.


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