KINGSTON, Ontario, Oct. 11 (UPI) — How streets are laid out may discourage children from exercising outdoors while at the same time helping adults walk to stores, researchers in Canada say.
Lead researcher Graham Mecredy, a graduate student at Queen’s University, said high intersection density and well-connected streets in towns and cities may discourage children from being active and exercising outdoors.
However, “we’ve known for a while that high street connectivity — well-connected streets and a high density of intersections in a given area — helps adults stay physically active since it makes it easier and more efficient for them to walk to work or a local store,” Mecredy said in a statement. “However, our findings suggest that high street connectivity has the opposite effect on children’s physical activity.”
The researchers mapped physical activity results from the 2006 Canadian Health Behavior in School-aged Children Survey onto street data provided by a geographical information system.
The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and Injury Prevention, found youth ages 11-16 who live in neighborhoods with streets that are well connected tend to have lower physical activity levels than youth who live in neighborhoods with streets that are modestly or poorly connected.
“Playing street hockey is an example of how street connectivity and density can influence the physical activity of youth,” Mecredy. “When traffic increases, or when you don’t have access to a quiet cul-de-sac, the game and the associated physical activity may both disappear.”