International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 64, Issue 5, pp 649–658 | Cite as

The influence of built, natural and social environment on physical activity among adults and elderly in southern Brazil: a population-based study

  • Jenifer Lopes BorchardtEmail author
  • Renata Gomes Paulitsch
  • Samuel Carvalho Dumith
Original article



This study investigated the association of built, natural and social environment variables with the practice of physical activity (PA) during leisure time and commuting.


Household interviews were carried out with a representative sample of individuals aged 18 years or older from a municipality in southern Brazil. PA was measured by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and households were georeferenced with a 500-m buffer.


Few associations between environmental variables and PA practice were identified. Only proximity to the seafront, presence of private gyms or sports clubs and higher average monthly income of the household head were associated with the practice of PA. In addition, there were inconsistencies in the findings showing that the associations varied based on the intensity and modality of PA within the same domain.


This study provides evidence on the lack of association between objective environmental measures and the practice of PA. Although there were few significant results and the presence of inconsistencies in the findings, some environmental variables were associated with a more frequent practice of PA.


Environment Leisure activity Geographic information system Walking Spatial analysis Urban population 


Authors’ contribution

JLB performed the data analysis and drafted the manuscript. RGP supervised the collection of data and critically reviewed the article. SCD conceived the study and critically reviewed the article. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.


This study was supported by Foundation for Research Support of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS), Grant ARD/PPP/2014, Application No. 16/2551-0000359-9.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenifer Lopes Borchardt
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Renata Gomes Paulitsch
    • 2
  • Samuel Carvalho Dumith
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Postgraduate Program in Public HealthFederal University of Rio GrandeRio GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Postgraduate Program in Health SciencesFederal University of Rio GrandeRio GrandeBrazil
  3. 3.PelotasBrazil

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