Movement and physical activity within urban landscapes

Movement and physical activity within urban landscapes

Urban Landscapes

If we are going to use urban environments as a lever to improve health and reduce health inequalities, we need to understand much better how people move (or not) around towns and cities, where they go and what they do. There has already been a lot of research on this, and increasing use is being made of GPS devices which are able to track people in space and time. However, much of this work has focused either just on physical activity and/or on one or two environmental attributes at a time. So, for example, research has looked at whether and how people use green spaces in the city for physical activity. In our programme, we recognise that our urban fabric is made up of many different land uses, facilities, services etc. Borrowing an idea from ecology, we conceptualise the built enviroment in a town or city as a landscape. A landscape doesn't contain fixed neighbourhood boundaries, but it does have particular habitats within which some types of people spend more (or even all) of their time.

Rather than picking a priori one or two aspects of urban environments that we think are important for health and well-being and then conducting a study to see if the associations we anticipate are indeed present, our programme believes we should instead allow people's activity within the urban landscape to reveal what is important to them. In practice this means we should consider measuring everywhere people go, and thinking about where they spend more or less time doing more or less interesting and immersive things. We hope to find the extent to which urban landscape influences where people go and what they do, how this might vary by individual characteristics such as age, gender and affluence, and how the urban landscape might itself be altered to promote its healthy and sustainable use.

We are developing the data and methods necessary to test these ideas.



See here for further information about the SPACES Study


Greenspace Agent Based Models