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Changes in Physical Activity and Travel Behaviors in Residents of a Mixed-Use Development

      Background

      Mixed-use developments may be especially promising settings for encouraging walking and other types of physical activity.

      Purpose

      This study examined the physical activity and travel behaviors of individuals before and after they relocated to Atlantic Station, a mixed-use redevelopment community in metropolitan Atlanta.

      Methods

      A survey study was conducted to compare the behaviors, experiences, and attitudes of Atlantic Station residents before and after moving to a mixed-use neighborhood. Data were collected in 2008 and 2009 and analyzed in 2010. Key dependent variables were self-reported physical activity and travel behaviors including walking for recreation and transport, automobile use, and use of public transportation.

      Results

      Study participants included 101 adult residents of Atlantic Station, most of whom were female, young, and well educated. There were significant increases in walking for recreation or fitness (46%–54%; p<0.05) and walking for transportation (44%–84%; p<0.001) after moving into the mixed-use development. Respondents also reported reduced automobile travel and increased time spent using public transportation after moving to Atlantic Station. Because this study used individuals as their own controls, there is more control over confounding lifestyle variables compared to cross-sectional studies of individuals living in different neighborhoods.

      Conclusions

      Adults who move to a denser, mixed-use neighborhood increase their levels of walking for both recreation and transportation, decrease their automobile travel, and increase their use of public transportation.
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