Background Walking is a good and simple way to increase people’s energy expenditure, but there is limited evidence whether the neighborhood environment correlates differently with recreational and transportation walking.
Aim To investigate how recreational walking and transportation walking are associated with the natural and built environmental characteristics of the living environment in the Netherlands, and examine the differences in their associations between weekdays and weekends.
Method and data We extracted the total duration of daily walking (in minutes per person) for recreation and transport from the Dutch National Travel Survey 2015-2017 (N=66,880) and analyzed it as an outcome variable. Objective measures of the natural (i.e., Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and meteorological conditions) and built environment (i.e., crossing density, land-use mix, and residential building density) around respondents’ home addresses were determined for buffers with 300, 600, and 1,000 m radii using a geographic information system. To assess associations between recreational and transport walking and the environmental exposures separately, we fitted Tobit regression models to the walking data, adjusted for multiple confounders.
Results On weekdays, people living in areas with less NDVI, higher land-use mix, higher residential building density, and higher crossing density were more likely to engage in transportation walking. While recreational walking was negatively associated with NDVI, crossing density, precipitation, and daily average temperature, it was positively associated with residential building density. At weekends, land-use mix supports both recreational and transportation walking. A negative association appeared for NDVI and transportation walking. Daily average rainfall and temperature were inversely correlated with recreational walking. Sensitivity tests indicated that some associations depend on the buffer size.
Conclusions Our findings suggest that the built and natural environments have different impacts on people’s recreational and transportation walking. We also found differences in the walking–environment associations between weekdays and weekends. Place-based policies to design walking-friendly neighborhoods may have different implications for different types of walking.