In the United States, the high prevalence of physical inactivity (PI) is linked to a wide range of health implications among urban dwellers. PI is a risk factor for many chronic diseases and some cancers, and is an underlying cause of overweight and obesity. In response to such concerns, a growing body of research has examined ways to promote physical activity (PA) and to improve subsequent health outcomes. Based on research findings across disciplines, modifications in physical design alone are insufficient to promote PA. Physical design changes must be accompanied by modifications in the social environment of urban areas. Comprehensive community-based strategies are needed to create supportive physical and social environments and to inform urban policy in guiding sustainable long-term maintenance of those environments. Since the relationship between people and their environments is dynamic, more research is needed to understand the specific mechanisms. This article compiles a number of research-based insights as to how future efforts in promoting PA need to address physical, social, and policy dimensions of the urban environment. It aims to present a foundation to bridge the fields of urban design and public health in creating an environment to promote PA.


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pp. 280-298
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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