Does your neighborhood affect how much you exercise?

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A recent press release points to a study in the Urban Studies journal that highlighted the impact of neighborhood type on exercise. Basically, the following neighborhood characteristics were associated with less exercise:

  • higher levels of poverty
  • lower levels of education
  • more families headed by women

The author’s interpretation of these results was that individuals are less likely to spend recreational time outside when they perceive a higher level of danger in their neighborhood. It certainly makes sense: anyone would be far more comfortable being active outside in a neighborhood that feels safe than one that appears “shady”. Also, one could assume that a poorer neighborhood would have less access to indoor exercise equipment, whether it be individually owned or at a gym. It would be interesting to see the difference in the density of fitness centers/gyms between the neighborhoods examined.

Another interesting finding from the study was that the impact of neighborhood characteristics on exercise was more pronounced in women than men. I wonder if this difference was due to a) concern for safety and/or b) child-rearing duties. There are obviously many complicated socioeconomic factors in play here – I don’t dare speculate too much.

But, income alone was not a reliable predictor of exercise. Lower income did not necessarily associate with lower amounts of exercise. As I discussed in a previous post, fitness is not exactly a luxury. I’m reminded of this every time I see mention of the wealthiest individuals in the world or the “Billionaire List” – ever take a look at how many of them are grossly overweight? Money doesn’t buy fitness. [And don’t think Bill Gates is thin because he’s a fitness guru – he looks like an under-eating waif who’s been a stick figure his entire life. I bet he can’t do a single pull-up.]

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4 Responses to “Does your neighborhood affect how much you exercise?”

  1. I am very fortunate to live in a regular middle class neighborhood and I hate to say it but if I lived in a crappy area I am sure that i would exercise before or after work in my work area instead.

    There are a lot of bad very urban areas of the country that are not very conducive to riding, running or even pools to do laps in.

    Also I am a tech guy and I can tell you that working on computers only makes your butt bigger. Most rich guys make money from sitting at a desk or in meetings and work 80 hour weeks. Some of the smart guys in my town have gyms at home to start their day early. I read about a CEO that would get to work at 8 but already had a workout at home at 5:00 AM

  2. Good points.

    I am nothing like a CEO, but I have to fit my HIIT cardio in at about 6AM on most mornings in order to get it in before work, or I would never do it. At the end of a workday, I’m usually fried.

  3. 🙂

    Good read! Thank you!

  4. Very nice post 😉 Added to favourites.

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