Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 96, Issue 4, pp 570–582 | Cite as

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

  • Tanya K. Kaufman
  • Andrew Rundle
  • Kathryn M. Neckerman
  • Daniel M. Sheehan
  • Gina S. Lovasi
  • Jana A. HirschEmail author


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.


Access Neighborhood Built environment Gym Physical activity 



Confidence interval


Global Physical Activity Questionnaire




National Establishment Time-Series


National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey


New York City


Adjusted odds ratio


Physical Activity and Transit


Standard deviation


Standard Industrial Classification



The authors would like to thank Dr. Donna Eisenhower and Katherine Bartley at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene who assisted with data acquisition and interpretation.

Authors’ Contributions

TK conceived of the paper, conducted the data analyses, and drafted the text. JH substantially revised the text and incorporated coauthor feedback prior to submission. AR acquired the PATS data and verified the analyses, and GL acquired the NETS data, and both advised TK on analyses. DS geoprocessed the study participant addresses and business locations and documented the geographical information system methods. KN, GL, and AR contributed to framing the paper and the interpretation of data and the development of the paper. All authors critically reviewed drafts and approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US), a grant from The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grant number K01HD067390), and a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIA-NIH 1R01AG049970-01A1).

Supplementary material

11524_2019_357_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 37 kb)


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Urban Health CollaborativeDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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