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Walk Score® is a free publicly-available tool that evaluates how a particular location is supportive of residents' walking, based on the distance to various local destinations. Several studies have shown associations of Walk Score with walking behaviors. However, these studies have been conducted only in Western countries, such as the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, and France. In addition, the role of Walk Score in sedentary behaviors has not yet been explored. The current study examined associations of Walk Score with physically-active and sedentary behaviors in Japan. This study used cross-sectional survey data from the Healthy Built Environment in Japan (HEBEJ) project. In 2011, adults living in urban and rural areas in Japan (n =1072) reported their walking and sedentary behaviors. Participants reported their walking in the past week for three specific purposes: for commuting; for errands; and for exercise. They also reported two sedentary behaviors in the past week: TV viewing and car driving. Walk Score was obtained manually for each participant's residential address. Logistic regression models (adjusted for covariates) were used to examine the associations of Walk Score with specific walking and sedentary behaviors. There were significant positive associations of Walk Score with two types of walking and car driving. Each 10- point increment in Walk Score (range: 0–97) was associated with a 34% (95%CI: 1.25, 1.42) higher odds of any walking for commuting; a 6% (95%CI: 1.01, 1.11) higher odds of any walking for errands; a 36% (95%CI: 1.23, 1.50) higher odds of sufficient walking for commuting; and, a 10% (95%CI: 0.83, 0.97) lower odds of driving a car for more than one hour per day. This study found for the first time that Walk Score was related to travel behaviors in a non-Western country. Walk Score can be useful to transport and urban designers in identifying local areas that support (or do not support) residents' active travel, and can help to inform broader environmental and urban design policy initiatives to promote active living.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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