Primary Investigator:

James F. Sallis, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University
Program Director, Active Living Research


Laurence D. Frank, Ph.D.

Brian E. Saelens, Ph.D.

Neighborhood Quality of Life Study (NQLS)
Funded by National Institutes of Health/National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
Sep 1, 2001-August 31, 2005

Main question: What is the association between environmental variables and physical activity?

The primary aim of the study is to document the association of neighborhood environment characteristics with objectively measured physical activity. It is hypothesized that physical environment variables are independently associated with adults’ total and moderate intensity physical activity above and beyond variance explained by psychosocial and sociodemographic correlates of physical activity.

“Walkability” means high density, high street connectivity, and greater mixed land use. It is proposed that individuals who live in more walkable communities will engage in more total and moderate intensity physical activity than those living in less walkable communities.

Select secondary aims are to compare the relative contribution of perceived vs objective environment to the explanation of PA, and to examine the relations between neighborhood environment and health-related non-physical activity outcomes.

Study Design:

  • Matched-community cross-sectional observational design
  • 16 neighborhoods in King County, WA and 16 neighborhoods in Maryland
  • Neighborhoods will be selected to be high and low on “walkability”, but matched on sociodemographic variables
  • N=2400 adults aged 20-65, randomly selected from neighborhood

Dependent Variables:

  • Total and moderate intensity PA (CSA accelerometry for 7 days, 2x)
  • Walking for transport (walking section of the IPAQ)
  • Sedentary behaviors (self report 7-day checklist)
  • BMI (self-report height and weight)
  • Quality of Life (Life satisfaction scale, CES-D, social interaction, social capital)
  • Perceptions of environment (perceived connectivity, mixed use, aesthetics, safety)

Independent Variables:

  • Objectively measured environment (residential density, street connectivity, land use mixture, crime, weather: Analyzed by GIS)
  • Sociodemographics
  • Psychosocial correlates of PA (self-efficacy, benefits & barriers, enjoyment, social support, stages change for PA)



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