Research Study Abstract

Neighborhood Recreation Facilities and Facility Membership Are Jointly Associated with Objectively Measured Physical Activity

  • Published on April 29, 2019

Efforts to increase physical activity have traditionally included either individual-level interventions (e.g., educational campaigns) or neighborhood-level interventions (e.g., additional recreational facilities). Little work has addressed the interaction between spatial proximity and individual characteristics related to facility use. We aimed to better understand the synergistic impact of both physical activity environments and recreational facility membership on objectively measured physical activity. Using the New York City Physical Activity and Transit (PAT) survey (n = 644), we evaluated associations between counts of commercial physical activity facilities within 1 km of participants’ home addresses with both facility membership and accelerometry-measured physical activity. Individuals living near more facilities were more likely to report membership (adjusted odds ratio for top versus bottom quartile of facility count: 3.77 (95% CI 1.54–9.20). Additionally, while amount of facilities within a neighborhood was associated with more physical activity, this association was stronger for individuals reporting gym membership. Interventions aiming to increase physical activity should consider both neighborhood amenities and potential barriers, including the financial and social barriers of membership. Evaluation of neighborhood opportunities must expand beyond physical presence to consider multiple dimensions of accessibility.


  • Tanya K. Kaufman 1
  • Andrew Rundle 1
  • Kathryn M. Neckerman 1
  • Daniel M. Sheehan 1
  • Gina S. Lovasi 2
  • Jana A. Hirsch 2


  • 1

    Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

  • 2

    Urban Health Collaborative, Drexel University, 3600 Market Street 7th Floor Suite, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA


Journal of Urban Health