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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Rutgers: Study Examines Sidewalk Conditions in Northern New Jersey

A recent Rutgers School of Public Health study found spatial patterns in sidewalk walkability in northern New Jersey, which can be used to identify neighborhoods with barriers to walking-based physical activity.

Aerobic physical activity can reduce the risk of physical and mental health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression, which are all critical public health issues. Walking is a great way to achieve the recommended amount of aerobic physical activity. However, in 2015, 48.7 percent of U.S. adults did not achieve the recommended amount of weekly aerobic physical activity (³150 minutes per week).

The researchers virtually audited over 11,000 locations within densely populated areas of New Jersey neighborhoods for the presence of sidewalks and their conditions, which could impact walkability. They found that the presence of sidewalks in good condition were more common in urban cores and occurred less frequently as distance from these cores increased. Sidewalks were absent or in poor condition along major roads in otherwise walkable urban cores.

The study was led by Dr. Jesse Plascak in collaboration with Drs. Adana Llanos, Antoinette Stroup, doctoral student Mr. Nimit Shah, and alum Dr. Cathleen Xing, of the Rutgers School of Public Health, Dr. Andrew Rundle of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and Dr. Steven Mooney of University of Washington School of Public Health.

“Installing and maintaining sidewalks can be a cost-effective, and equitable way to promote physical activity and reduce disparities in related chronic diseases,” said Dr. Jesse Plascak.

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