Neighbourhood blue space, health and wellbeing: The mediating role of different types of physical activity
Pasanen, TP; White, MP; Wheeler, BW; et al.Garrett, JK; Elliott, LR
Date: 25 July 2019
Background: Evidence suggests that living near blue spaces such as the coast, lakes and rivers may be good for health and wellbeing. Although greater levels of physical activity (PA) may be a potential mechanism, we know little about the types of PA that might account for this. Objectives: To explore the mediating role of: a) ‘watersports’ ...
Background: Evidence suggests that living near blue spaces such as the coast, lakes and rivers may be good for health and wellbeing. Although greater levels of physical activity (PA) may be a potential mechanism, we know little about the types of PA that might account for this. Objectives: To explore the mediating role of: a) ‘watersports’ (e.g. sailing/canoeing); b) ‘on-land outdoor PA’ in natural/mixed settings (e.g. walking/running/cycling); and, c) ‘indoor/other PA’ (e.g. gym/squash) in the relationships between residential blue space availability and health outcomes. Methods: Using data from the Health Survey for England (n = 21,097), we constructed a path model to explore whether weekly volumes of each PA type mediate any of the relationships between residential blue space availability (coastal proximity and presence of freshwater) and self-reported general and mental health, controlling for green space density and a range of socio-economic factors at the individual- and area-level. Results: Supporting predictions, living nearer the coast was associated with better self-reported general and mental health and this was partially mediated by on-land outdoor PA (primarily walking). Watersports were more common among those living within 5kms of the coast, but did not mediate associations between coastal proximity and health. Presence of freshwater in the neighbourhood was associated with better mental health, but this effect was not mediated by PA. Conclusions: Although nearby blue spaces offer potentially easier access to watersports, relatively few individuals in England engage in them and thus they do not account for positive population health associations. Rather, the benefits to health from coastal living seem, at least in part, due to participation in land-based outdoor activities (especially walking). Further research is needed to explore the mechanisms behind the relationship between freshwater presence and mental health.
Institute of Health Research
College of Medicine and Health
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's licence is described as © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY-NC-ND/4.0/)