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Walk Score®

Associations with Purposive Walking in Recent Cuban Immigrants

      Background

      Walk Score® is a nationally and publicly available metric of neighborhood walkability based on proximity to amenities (e.g., retail, food, schools). However, few studies have examined the relationship of Walk Score to walking behavior.

      Purpose

      To examine the relationship of Walk Score to walking behavior in a sample of recent Cuban immigrants, who overwhelmingly report little choice in their selection of neighborhood built environments when they arrive in the U.S.

      Methods

      Participants were 391 recent healthy Cuban immigrants (mean age=37.1 years) recruited within 90 days of arrival in the U.S., and assessed within 4 months of arrival (mean=41.0 days in the U.S.), who resided throughout Miami-Dade County FL. Data on participants’ addresses, walking, and sociodemographics were collected prospectively from 2008 to 2010. Analyses conducted in 2011 examined the relationship of Walk Score for each participant’s residential address in the U.S. to purposive walking, controlling for age, gender, education, BMI, days in the U.S., and habitual physical activity level in Cuba.

      Results

      For each 10-point increase in Walk Score, adjusting for covariates, there was a significant 19% increase in the likelihood of purposive walking, a 26% increase in the likelihood of meeting physical activity recommendations by walking, and 27% more minutes walked in the previous week.

      Conclusions

      Results suggest that Walk Score is associated with walking in a sample of recent immigrants who initially had little choice in where they lived in the U.S. These results support existing guidelines indicating that mixed land use (such as parks and restaurants near homes) should be included when designing walkable communities.
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