Public spaces could promote health equity by providing a place for people to engage in physical activity. Whereas most studies show a positive association between public spaces and physical activity, there are still mixed results, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The objectives of this mixed-methods study were: (i) to assess the quantitative association between access to public spaces and physical activity; (ii) to assess the modification of the association by public spaces quality, area-level walkability, and social stratifiers; (iii) to explain the quantitative results using qualitative data. Quantitative data were obtained with a household survey in two arid-climate Mexican cities in 2017-2018. physical activity was measured with the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire. Access to public spaces was measured in buffers centered on survey blocks, walkability with area-level indicators, and public spaces quality with the Physical Activity Resources Assessment. Qualitative data were obtained with semi-structured interviews and neighborhood observation. No quantitative association between access to public spaces and physical activity was found, as well as no interactions between access to public spaces and other variables. Walkability was positively associated with physical activity. Qualitative analysis showed that local public spaces were rarely used by adults because they were perceived as small, unequipped, unattractive, and unsafe. The results shed light on the relationship between public spaces and physical activity, highlighting the improvements in design and upkeep of public spaces that are necessary to achieve their potential health benefit.
- Built environment
- Motor activity
- Recreational parks
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health