Snakes, streetlights, swimming pools ... how the local environment affects our exercise

People living in rural areas across three Australian States have joined our survey that is looking into whether the design of their local area helps them to get moving.

“We asked people how the design of our local areas encourages or prevents us from being active, and whether people in rural areas have access to a sufficient range of safe, well-maintained places to be active,” said Menzies researcher Dr Verity Cleland, pictured. Dr Cleland leads the study, which also includes researchers from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University in Victoria and the University of South Australia.

“Academic research has shown that the local environment is related to physical activity levels in cities, but this sort of research has rarely been done in a rural setting in Australia,” Dr Cleland said.

“Identifying features of our local environment that impact most on physical activity is very important because we can then help councils, government, planners and developers create spaces and places that support healthy lifestyles for rural people.”

“Creating environments that make it easy to be active without even having to think about it has enormous potential as a way to improve population health,” Dr Cleland said.

Analysis of the survey data will take place in the next few months.