PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (10): 1229-1238.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2017.10.005

• Special Issue: Health Geography and Human Settlement • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of spatial-temporal constraints of suburban residents on fitness activities to mental health in the context of rapid suburbanization:A case study in Guangzhou, China

Suhong ZHOU1,2(), Jiaming HE1,2   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Online:2017-10-28 Published:2017-10-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41522104;Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong, China, No.2017A030313228, No.2014A030312010;Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China, No.15lgjc24


Rapid suburbanization has been an important issue in the urban and social transformation period of China. From the perspective of suburban resident individual activities, urban geography mainly focuses on commuting, leisure, shopping, and other daily behavior, but lack of research on individual mental health. Although mental health issue has been widely discussed in disciplines such as psychology, public health, and medical science, in most studies residents are considered as a homogeneous group, or simply divided by gender, age, income, and other social and economic attributes, and there is a lack of analysis on different spatial dimensions and built environment factors in various urban spaces. As such, based on the interdisciplinary perspective of health geography, this article concentrates on the mental health of suburban residents in the context of the market-oriented suburbanization. A total of 1029 resident samples in 11communities in Guangzhou City were selected for this study. Among these samples, 102 were from the suburban area and 927 were from the inner city area. A multiple linear regression model was used to examine the impact of the urban built environment and health behavior on mental health outcome, in order to reveal the public service inequality between inner city and suburban areas in the rapid suburbanization process. The results show that based on the WHO-5 indices, the average score of mental health of suburban samples was only 8.411 points, which was far lower than the average score of inner city samples of 12.788. Therefore attention should be paid to the mental health situation of suburban residents. The physical activities of the suburban residents are spatially and temporally constrained, which lead to an obvious poor mental health compared to the inner city residents. This health outcome differentiation is not only affected by the economic and social attributes of the individuals and neighborhood relationships, but also significantly affected by the built environment in different urban areas. For inner city residents, their health behaviors can be positively influenced by the high density of fitness facilities and land use patterns both in workplace and residence. However, for suburban residents who have to suffer every day from long-distance commuting and poor design and connectivity of public transport, their mental health outcomes are mainly associated with the built environment of residential community. Their fitness activities will be restricted by the low accessibility of urban public space and imperfect public transport system. This study could provide an important reference for the optimization of the land use structure and public services infrastructure in suburban communities for improving the health of the people living there.

Key words: suburbanization, mental health, fitness activities, spatial-temporal constraints, Guangzhou