Investigating the association between physical activity and the built environment among individuals with schizophrenia

  • Alex Boross-Harmer Faculty of Exercise Sciences, University of Toronto
  • Viviane Grassmann University of Toronto
  • Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos University of Toronto
  • Guy Faulkner University of British Columbia


Background: Despite the known benefits of physical activity (PA) for persons with schizophrenia, most of the population is not meeting PA recommendations. One strategy that may influence the PA of persons with schizophrenia is approaches that provide environmental opportunities and supports to assist individuals in becoming more active. Currently, there is limited knowledge on the role of the environment in the PA behaviour of this population. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between perceptions of the built environment and PA among individuals with schizophrenia. Methods: A total of 112 participants (45 female) with schizophrenia (Mage = 41.2±12 years) completed the Physical Activity Neighbourhood Environment Survey (PANES) and wore an accelerometer over a 7-day period. Pearson correlations were used to explore associations between daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and steps counts, environmental perceptions (residential density, land use mix, transit access, pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, recreation facilities, street connectivity, traffic, crime and pedestrian safety, and aesthetics) and demographics (age, BMI, gender). Only those variables demonstrating a significant correlation with PA were included in the linear regression. Results: Aesthetics and age were the only variables significantly related to MVPA (R2 = 0.09; β = 0.21, p < 0.05 and β = -0.27, p > 0.01, respectively) and steps counts (R2 = 0.11; β = 0.28, p <0.01; β = -0.22, p >0.05, respectively). Conclusion: These findings suggest that an aesthetically appealing environment may have a small influence on daily MVPA behaviour among individuals with schizophrenia, irrespective of age.

Acknowledgments: This study is supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (operating grant).