Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, causing an estimated 3.3 million deaths worldwide. Characteristics of the built environment, including buildings, public spaces, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, transportation networks, parks, trails and green spaces can facilitate or constrain physical activity. However, objective study of built environment interventions on physical activity remains challenging due to methodological limitations and research gaps. Existing methods such as direct observations or surveys are time and labour intensive, and only provide a static, cross-sectional view of physical activity at a specific point in time. The aim of this study was to develop a novel method for objectively and inexpensively assessing how built environment changes may influence physical activity. We used a novel, unobtrusive method to capture real-time, in situ data from a convenience sample of 25 adults along a newly constructed urban greenway in an area of high deprivation in Belfast, UK. Walk/bike-along interviews were conducted with participants using a body-worn or bicycle-mounted portable digital video camera (GoPro HERO 3+ camera) to record their self-determined journeys along the greenway. This is the first study to demonstrate the feasibility of using wearable sensors to capture participants’ responses to the built environment in real-time during their walking and cycling journeys. These findings contribute to our understanding of the impact of real-world environmental interventions on physical activity and the importance of precise, accurate and objective measurements of environments where the activity occurs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Property Research Trust, London, United Kingdom (grant number 512).
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- wearable sensors
- physical activity
- Physical activity
- Wearable sensors