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The environmental correlates of overall and neighborhood based recreational walking (a cross-sectional analysis of the RECORD Study)

Basile Chaix12*, Chantal Simon3, Hélène Charreire4, Frédérique Thomas5, Yan Kestens6, Noëlla Karusisi12, Julie Vallée7, Jean-Michel Oppert89, Christiane Weber10 and Bruno Pannier5

Author Affiliations

1 Inserm, U707, 27 rue Chaligny, 75012 Paris, France

2 Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris6, UMR-S 707, 27 rue Chaligny, 75012 Paris, France

3 Lyon University, Inserm U870, Inra U1235, CRNH Rhône-Alpes, Chemin du Grand Revoyet, 69310 Pierre Bénite, France

4 Université Paris-Est, Lab’Urba - Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris, 61 Avenue du général de Gaulle, 94010 Créteil, France

5 Centre d’Investigations Préventives et Cliniques, 6 rue La Pérouse, 75116 Paris, France

6 Social and Preventive Medicine Department, Université de Montréal, 7101 avenue du Parc, Montreal, QC H3N 1X7, Canada

7 CNRS, UMR Géographie-cités, 13 rue du Four, 75006 Paris, France

8 Inserm U557, Inra U1125, CNAM, EA3200, University Paris13, 74 rue Marcel Cachin, 93000 Bobigny, France

9 Department of Nutrition, Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital (AP-HP), CRNH IdF, University Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris6, 47-83, boulevard de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France

10 ERL7230 CNRS Image, Ville, Environnement, 3 rue de l’Argonne, 67000 Strasbourg University, Strasbourg, France

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:20  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-20

Published: 21 February 2014



Preliminary evidence suggests that recreational walking has different environmental determinants than utilitarian walking. However, previous studies are limited in their assessment of environmental exposures and recreational walking and in the applied modeling strategies. Accounting for individual sociodemographic profiles and weather over the walking assessment period, the study examined whether numerous street network-based neighborhood characteristics related to the sociodemographic, physical, service, social-interactional, and symbolic environments were associated with overall recreational walking and recreational walking in one’s residential neighborhood and could explain their spatial distribution.


Based on the RECORD Cohort Study (Paris region, France, n = 7105, 2007–2008 data), multilevel-spatial regression analyses were conducted to investigate environmental factors associated with recreational walking (evaluated by questionnaire at baseline). A risk score approach was applied to quantify the overall disparities in recreational walking that were predicted by the environmental determinants.


Sixty-nine percent of the participants reported recreational walking over the past 7 days. Their mean reported recreational walking time was 3h31mn. After individual-level adjustment, a higher neighborhood education, a higher density of destinations, green and open spaces of quality, and the absence of exposure to air traffic were associated with higher odds of recreational walking and/or a higher recreational walking time in one’s residential neighborhood. As the overall disparities that were predicted by these environmental factors, the odds of reporting recreational walking and the odds of a higher recreational walking time in one’s neighborhood were, respectively, 1.59 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.56, 1.62] times and 1.81 (95% CI: 1.73, 1.87) times higher in the most vs. the least supportive environments (based on the quartiles).


Providing green/open spaces of quality, building communities with services accessible from the residence, and addressing environmental nuisances such as those related to air traffic may foster recreational walking in one’s environment.

Walking; Recreational activity; Neighborhood environment; Physical and social contexts; Spatial analysis; Geographic Information Systems