This study examined whether changes in green space within the living environment were associated with changes in walking and cycling frequencies in a cohort of 3,220 Dutch adults between 2004, 2011 and 2014. Data on self-reported weekly time spent walking and cycling for active commute and leisure were linked to geographic information system (GIS) measures of total green areas within 1000 m buffer zones around each participant's home address, and distance to the nearest green space. First, cross-sectional linear regression models showed no statistically significant associations between green space measures and walking and cycling. Second, fixed effects (FE) models were used to analyze whether changes in green space were associated with changes in walking and cycling, using longitudinal data from respondents who did not relocate over time. As distance to the nearest green area increased by 100 m, individuals spent 22.76 fewer (95% CI: -39.92, -5.60) minutes walking for leisure per week and 3.21 more (95% CI: 0.46, 5.96) minutes walking for active commute. Changes in distance to green space were not significantly related to changes in cycling measures. No clear associations between changes in green areas within 1000 m buffers and changes in walking and cycling were observed. Overall, there was weak evidence of an effect of changes in green space area on changes in walking, and no evidence for cycling.
The study was supported by a grant from the European Commission HORIZON 2020 research and innovation action (grant number 667661) and the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (grant number 200500005). The funders had no role in the study design or the analysis and interpretation of the data. All authors and their institutions reserve intellectual freedom from the funders.
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