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Increasing walking: How important is distance to, attractiveness, and size of public open space?

Key Message

Access to attractive, large public open space is associated with higher levels of walking.


Giles-Corti, B, Broomhall, M H, Knuiman, et al. (2005). ‘Increasing walking: How important is distance to, attractiveness and size of public open space? American Journal of Preventive Medicine (special issue on Active Living and the Built Environment), 28(2 S2):169-76.


In 1995–1996, two studies were conducted—an environmental audit of public open space (POS) over 2 acres (n =516) within a 408-km2 area of metropolitan Perth, Western Australia; and personal interviews with 1803 adults (aged 18 to 59 years) (52.9% response rate). The association between access to POS and physical activity was examined using three accessibility models that progressively adjusted for distance to POS, and its attractiveness and size. In 2002, an observational study examined the influence of attractiveness on the use of POS by observing users of three pairs of high- and low-quality (based on attractiveness) POS matched for size and location.


Overall, 28.8% of respondents reported using POS for physical activity. The likelihood of using POS increased with increasing levels of access, but the effect was greater in the model that adjusted for distance, attractiveness, and size. After adjustment, those with very good access to large, attractive POS were 50% more likely to achieve high levels of walking (odds ratio, 1.50; 95% confidence level, 1.06–2.13). The observational study showed that after matching POS for size and location, 70% of POS users observed visited attractive POS.

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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