Living near green areas doesn't mean more exercise
Living near green space makes little or no difference in how much people exercise during their leisure time, Dutch researchers said on Wednesday.
In fact, people who live closest to green areas in urban or rural areas walk and cycle less often and for shorter amounts of time than other residents, they reported in the journal BioMed Central Public Health.
"We found that there was either no relationship or only a small one between green space and physical activity," said Jolanda Maas, a researcher at the Nivel Institute in Utrecht, who led the study. "People with more green space walk and cycle less often in their leisure time."
People with 20 percent of green space walked around 250 minutes each week during their leisure time compared to 180 minutes -- more than an hour less -- for those surrounded by 80 percent of green space.
This may be because people in less urban environments need to use their cars more to get to places such as shops, schools and the doctor's office, Maas said.
Living near green space also made no difference in whether people met national health recommendations to get 30 minutes of exercise daily, according to a survey of 5,000 residents across the Netherlands.
"An important implication of the study is when you just look at the availability of green space it is not true people are just more physically active," Maas said. "This study shows you don't really need green space."