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Introduction Access to natural outdoor environments can promote physical activity, social cohesion, and improved psychological well-being. In 2016, an urban riverside regeneration project to facilitate access to the riverbank for pedestrians and cyclists was conducted in Barcelona (Spain). We aim to evaluate its effect in terms of changes in use and physical activity of users, and changes in local’s use and perception of the urban riverside, and their corresponding self-perceived health and well-being. Methods We conducted systematic observations, before and after the intervention, using the System for Observing Parks and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) to quantify the use and physical activity levels of users and compared them over time. Qualitative assessment consisted of semi-structured face-to-face interviews with the locals. Results We observed a 25% increase in users of the renovated area of the river after the intervention. There was an increase in sedentary users and those engaged in moderate levels of physical activity [7.7% vs. 12.0% sedentary users, and 66.9% vs. 68.7% moderately active users before and after the intervention respectively, p < 0.001]. The growth of users in the renovated area was mainly driven by females, adults, children, and the non-Caucasian population. Resident interviewees, in general, reported to be happy to live near the river, where they usually go for a stroll, and thought living near the riverside area might benefit their health and well-being. Overall, residents seemed satisfied with the intervention. Conclusions Nature-based interventions in socioeconomically-deprived neighbourhoods might reduce inequalities in access to natural areas, creating attractive destinations for residents, promoting physical activity and/or creating opportunities for social interactions, and improving their health and well-being.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.