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Critical Assessment of the Literature on the Relationships Among Transportation, Land Use, and Physical Activity

UCD-ITS-RP-05-67

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Suggested Citation:
Handy, Susan L. (2005) Critical Assessment of the Literature on the Relationships Among Transportation, Land Use, and Physical Activity. Transportation Research Board Special Report

Suggested Citation: Handy, Susan L. (2005) Critical Assessment of the Literature on the Relationships Among Transportation, Land Use, and Physical Activity.  Background paper prepared for Transportation Research Board Special Report 282: Does the Built Environment Influence Physical Activity? Examining the Evidence, available: http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/155343.aspx

The purpose of this report is to provide a theoretical framework for discussion and to review and evaluate empirical evidence regarding the relationship between the built environment and physical activity behaviors. The question of interest here is the link between the built environment and physical activity, including both active travel and other physical activity. However, in conceptualizing this link and in designing studies to test it, researchers must think both more specifically and more broadly. First, researchers must more specifically conceptualize the two key variables, the built environment and physical activity. Second, researchers must consider the possibility of a broader conceptual model, one that takes into account other factors that affect physical activity and does not assume that all other factors are exogenous to the relationship between the built environment and physical activity. To assess the progress existing research makes toward meeting these challenges, this report reviews the theory, studies, and findings from two bodies of work—travel behavior research and physical activity research.