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Co-benefits of Designing Communities for Active Living

Key Message

Active cities are an investment in developing greater human, economic, social and environmental capital. 


Sallis, James F. et al. (2015). Co-benefits of designing communities for active living: an exploration of literature. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 12:30 DOI 10.1186/s12966-015-0188-2


The purpose of the present paper is to explore a wide range of literature and conduct an initial summary of evidence on co-benefits of activity friendly environments. An extensive but non-systematic review of scientific and “gray” literature was conducted. Five physical activity settings were defined: parks/open space/trails, urban design, transportation, schools, and workplaces/ buildings. Several evidence-based activity-friendly features were identified for each setting.


All five physical activity settings could be designed so they have positive effects on economic outcomes, including increased home value, greater retail activity, reduced health care costs, and improved productivity.

Specific environmental features with the strongest evidence of multiple co-benefits were park proximity, mixed land use, trees/greenery, accessibility and street connectivity, building design, and workplace physical activity policies/programs. The exploration revealed substantial evidence that designing community environments that make physical activity attractive and convenient is likely to produce additional important benefits.

Activity-friendly design in all settings had strong evidence of environmental co-benefits based on reduced pollution and carbon emissions.


Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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