The physical environment and public policy

Rebecca E. Lee, Scherezade K. Mama, Heather Leach, Erica G. Soltero, Nathan H. Parker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The physical environment refers to the context or setting in which people spend the majority of their time (Barker, 1968; Lee, McAlexander, & Banda, 2011). Multiple physical environments, such as the home, neighborhood, school, and workplace, can influence physical activity (Craig et al., 2003; Lee & Cubbin, 2009; Lee et al., 2011a, b; Van Cauwenberg et al., 2011). Features found within a physical environment can significantly affect physical activity. These features can be natural, such as lakes, hills, or open meadows, or manmade, such as bike lanes, trails, fields, or gyms (Sallis et al., 2006). The physical environment can influence multiple forms of physical activity, including active transportation, leisure-time physical activity, and household and occupational physical activity (Sallis et al., 2006). Factors within the physical environment, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, street connectivity, and land use, significantly influence active transportation. For example, streets with wider sidewalks and bike lanes can encourage physical activity by providing safe pathways for people to walk or bicycle to work, school, or other nearby destinations. Public media prompts for physical activity, such as signs that encourage the use of stairs and guide pedestrians to stairs as alternatives to elevators or escalators, may positively affect public spaces by increasing awareness and recognition of physical activity opportunities (Andersen, Franckowiak, Snyder, Bartlett, & Fontaine, 1998; Coleman & Gonzalez, 2001; McKinnon, Bowles, & Trowbridge, 2011).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationApplied Exercise Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationThe Challenging Journey from Motivation to Adherence
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781134462377
ISBN (Print)9780415702720
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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