Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Walkability


Mobile phone texting is a common daily occurrence with a paucity of research examining corresponding gait characteristics. To date, most studies have participants walk in a straight line vs. overcoming barriers and obstacles that occur during regular walking. The aim of our study is to examine the effect of mobile phone texting during periods of cognitive distraction while walking and negotiating barriers synonymous with pedestrian traffic.

Concepts: Mobile phone, Walking, Locomotion, Text messaging, Pedestrian, Walkability, Motorola, Racewalking


Pedestrians regularly engage with their mobile phone whilst walking. The current study investigated how mobile phone use affects where people look (visual search behaviour) and how they negotiate a floor based hazard placed along the walking path. Whilst wearing a mobile eye tracker and motion analysis sensors, participants walked up to and negotiated a surface height change whilst writing a text, reading a text, talking on the phone, or without a phone. Differences in gait and visual search behaviour were found when using a mobile phone compared to when not using a phone. Using a phone resulted in looking less frequently and for less time at the surface height change, which led to adaptations in gait by negotiating it in a manner consistent with adopting an increasingly cautious stepping strategy. When using a mobile phone, writing a text whilst walking resulted in the greatest adaptions in gait and visual search behaviour compared to reading a text and talking on a mobile phone. Findings indicate that mobile phone users were able to adapt their visual search behaviour and gait to incorporate mobile phone use in a safe manner when negotiating floor based obstacles.

Concepts: Mobile phone, Walking, Adaptation, Locomotion, Automobile, Pedestrian, Walkability, Sustainable transport


Physical activity confers considerable health benefits, but only half of U.S. adults report participating in levels of aerobic physical activity consistent with guidelines (1,2). Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities identified walking as an important public health strategy to increase physical activity levels (3). A previous report showed that the self-reported prevalence of walking for transportation or leisure increased by 6 percentage points from 2005 to 2010 (4), but it is unknown whether this increase has been sustained. CDC analyzed National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2005 (26,551 respondents), 2010 (23,313), and 2015 (28,877) to evaluate trends in the age-adjusted prevalence of self-reported walking among adults aged ≥18 years. The prevalence of walking increased steadily among women, from 57.3% in 2005, to 62.5% in 2010, and to 65.1% in 2015 (significant linear trend). Among men, a significant linear increase in reported walking was observed, from 54.3% in 2005, to 61.8% in 2010, and to 62.8% in 2015, although the increase stalled between 2010 and 2015 (significant linear and quadratic trends). Community design policies and practices that encourage pedestrian activity and programs tailored to the needs of specific population subgroups remain important strategies for promoting walking (3).

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Health, Epidemiology, Trend, Walking, Pedestrian, Walkability


We measured dynamic stress responses using ambulatory heart rate monitoring as participants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania walked past vacant lots before and after a greening remediation treatment of randomly selected lots. Being in view of a greened vacant lot decreased heart rate significantly more than did being in view of a nongreened vacant lot or not in view of any vacant lot. Remediating neighborhood blight may reduce stress and improve health. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print March 19, 2015: e1-e5. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302526).

Concepts: Walking, Treadmill, Walkability, Philadelphia


Evidence-based metrics are needed to inform urban policy to create healthy walkable communities. Most active living research has developed metrics of the environment around residential addresses, ignoring other important walking locations. Therefore, this study examined: metrics for built environment features surrounding local shopping centres, (known in Melbourne, Australia as neighbourhood activity centres (NACs) which are typically anchored by a supermarket); the association between NACs and transport walking; and, policy compliance for supermarket provision.

Concepts: Natural environment, Sustainability, Retailing, Walking, Walkability, Urban design, Urban studies and planning terminology, Urban studies and planning


To estimate the associations of neighbourhood walkability (based on Geographic Information System (GIS)-derived measures of street connectivity, land use mix, and population density and the Walk Score) with self-reported utilitarian walking and accelerometer-assessed daily steps in Canadian adults.

Concepts: Geography, Geographic information system, Population density, Walking, Road, Pedestrian, Walkability, Sustainable transport


Technology-related distracted behavior is an emergent national concern. Listening to, looking at or talking into an electronic device while walking divides attention, increasing the risk of injury. The purpose of this study was to quantify technology-related distracted pedestrian behavior at five dangerous and busy Manhattan intersections. Data were collected over ten cycles of signal changes at each of the four corners of five intersections at four times of day. Data for ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk’ signals were tallied separately. A total of 21,760 pedestrians were observed. Nearly one-third crossing on a ‘Walk’ signal (n = 5414, 27.8 %), and nearly half crossing on a ‘Don’t Walk’ signal (n = 974; 42.0 %) were wearing headphones, talking on a mobile phone, and/or looking down at an electronic device. Headphone use was the most common distraction.

Concepts: Human behavior, Mobile phone, Walking, Locomotion, Pedestrian, Walkability, Distraction, Attention span


Slow walking speed is strongly associated with adverse health outcomes, including cognitive impairment, in the older population. Moreover, adequate walking speed is crucial to maintain older pedestrians' mobility and safety in urban areas. This study aimed to identify the proportion of Swiss older adults that didn’t reach 1.2 m/s, which reflects the requirements to cross streets within the green-yellow phase of pedestrian lights, when walking fast under cognitive challenge. A convenience sample, including 120 older women (65%) and men, was recruited from the community (88%) and from senior residences and divided into groups of 70-79 years (n = 59, 74.8 ± 0.4 y; mean ± SD) and ≥80 years (n = 61, 85.5 ± 0.5 y). Steady state walking speed was assessed under single- and dual-task conditions at preferred and fast walking speed. Additionally, functional lower extremity strength (5-chair-rises test), subjective health rating, and retrospective estimates of fall frequency were recorded. Results showed that 35.6% of the younger and 73.8% of the older participants were not able to walk faster than 1.2 m/s under the fast dual-task walking condition. Fast dual-task walking speed was higher compared to the preferred speed single- and dual-task conditions (all p < .05, r = .31 to .48). Average preferred single-task walking speed was 1.19 ± 0.24 m/s (70-79 y) and 0.94 ± 0.27 m/s (≥80 y), respectively, and correlated with performance in the 5-chair-rises test (rs = -.49, p < .001), subjective health (τ = .27, p < .001), and fall frequency (τ = -.23, p = .002). We conclude that the fitness status of many older people is inadequate to safely cross streets at pedestrian lights and maintain mobility in the community's daily life in urban areas. Consequently, training measures to improve the older population's cognitive and physical fitness should be promoted to enhance walking speed and safety of older pedestrians.

Concepts: Middle age, Exercise, Urban area, Walking, Steady state, Locomotion, Pedestrian, Walkability


Planning policy makers and practitioners are requesting clearer guidance on the ‘essential’ ingredients as assessed by public health researchers to ensure suburban neighbourhood environments are designed to promote active living behaviours such as walking.

Concepts: Public health, City, Suburb, Walkability, Urban design, Commuting, Grid plan, Commuter town


The objectives were to determine whether: (1) playability features differed across walkable and non-walkable school neighborhoods, and (2) physical activity differed in children living in walkable and non-walkable school neighborhoods. A total of 3912 grade 6-8 students from 132 school neighborhoods were studied. There was more developed park space in high walkability neighborhoods than low walkability neighborhoods. Other playability features were more preferable in the low (e.g., undeveloped treed and water areas) and moderate (e.g., physical disorder/esthetics) walkability neighborhoods. Children from low walkability neighborhoods were more likely to engage in free-time physical activity outside of school and to achieve recommended levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than were children from high walkability neighborhoods.

Concepts: Developed country, High school, Walkability, Playability