Built environment and physical activity among adolescents: The moderating effects of neighborhood safety and social support

Venurs H.Y. Loh, Jenny Veitch, Jo Salmon, Ester Cerin, Lukar Thornton, Suzanne Mavoa, Karen Villanueva, Anna Timperio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Increasing emphasis has been placed on improving physical activity levels through multilevel interventions. This study aims to examine moderating effects of neighborhood safety (crime and traffic) and social support (from parent and sibling/peer) for physical activity in the relationship between the built environment and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) outside school hours among adolescents in Melbourne. Methods: Data were from the NEighbourhood Activity in Youth study conducted among adolescents in Melbourne, Australia (n = 358, 15.3 (SD = 1.5) years). MVPA outside school hours was assessed by accelerometer. Built environment features within 1 km and 2 km residential buffers including recreation facilities, park area, and walkability and its components were assessed using Geographic Information Systems. Neighborhood safety, social support for physical activity and sociodemographic information were self-reported by adolescents. Multilevel linear regression models were used to estimate associations. Results: Support for physical activity from sibling/peer positively moderated the relationship between recreation facilities (1 km), residential density (2 km) and MVPA. Recreation facility (count within 2 km), walkability (1 km and 2 km) and residential density (1 km) had significant positive associations with MVPA outside school hours. Conclusion: The built environment appeared to have stronger facilitating effects on MVPA among adolescents who had favourable support for physical activity from their sibling or peer. Multilevel interventions that target the built environment and social factors are needed to promote MVPA outside school hours among adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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