A Socio-ecological approach to understanding physical activity behaviour in Edinburgh, through the application a localised index
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The physical inactivity pandemic is challenging public health by exacerbating serious chronic conditions such as, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and obesity. Whilst a number of studies have reported countless covariates associated with this phenomenon, few have developed a mechanism in which to systematically measure and examine multiple influences of its occurrence. Recent research has begun to acknowledge that exercise habits are controlled, not only through intrapersonal attributes, but also aspects within social and physical environment. This has been labelled a socio-ecological approach. The following study investigated neighbourhood experience of physical activity by applying a two pronged approach. First, this study reports the degree of physical activity opportunity within the environment which was measured using a localised index, characterised by five environmental attributes; distance decay, financial cost, recreation type and objective crime. The second element compared physical activity opportunity with self-reported outcomes of physical activity, provided by respondents of the Scottish Health Survey. The findings of this research revealed a positive association with physical activity outcomes, between physical activity opportunity and neighbourhood socio-economic deprivation. However a stronger association was identified between a number of individual confounders, namely age, gender, ethnicity, education, and long-term limiting illness, with a weaker but still positive correlation, with household income. This could be an indication of the limited affect environmental attributes have on participation in physical activity, or that the population sample analysed in this study was too small, suggesting a larger population could reveal a more definitive result.