PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (3): 357-369.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.03.006

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Influence of urban built environment on residents’ physical activity: Review and implications

Yupei JIANG1,2(), Feng ZHEN1,2,*(), Wenwen WANG1,2, Mengni ZHAO1,2   

  1. 1. School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
    2. Jiangsu Provincial Engineering Laboratory of Smart City Design Simulation & Visualization, Nanjing 210093, China;
  • Received:2018-05-14 Revised:2019-01-07 Online:2019-03-28 Published:2019-03-28
  • Contact: Feng ZHEN;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 41571146.


The relationship between the built environment and urban residents' physical activity is a reflection of the human-environment relationship of urban systems in the field of health, and is related to the development and management of urban public health. In recent years, such relationship has become a new research topic in health geography. Based on the spatial perspective of geography, the progress of research on the influence of urban built environment on residents' physical activity in China and internationally was examined from the three aspects of spatial organization, spatial pattern, and spatial function. The analysis shows that there are many achievements internationally: 1) Social-ecological system research methods are most widely applied and are constantly revised and expanded in theory. Besides, studies based on the theory of mobility and activity behavior are emerging. Some complicated statistical regression models and spatial regression models are gradually applied. 2) In existing studies, the analysis of the influence of a series of characteristics of urban built environment, such as spatial organization, spatial pattern, and spatial function, on the level and type of physical activity of different resident groups has received more attention. Among these, the influence of spatial organization mainly concerns traffic organization, green space network, and other organizational types, as well as the impact of accessibility, connectivity, and other spatial links. The influences of spatial pattern such as structure, form, and spatial function were also examined. However, the research within China is still focusing on introducing international studies and concentrated in a few disciplines such as geography, urban planning, and sports, and lacks theoretical development and case studies in the Chinese context. Therefore, future research should focus on the following: theoretical development based on the ideas of unity of human and nature; application of multi-source data and spatial statistical methods; and new empirical studies based on virtual reality interaction and local context.

Key words: built environment, physical activity, urban space, mechanism of influence, public health