Enhancing active living & physical exercise through environmentally friendly policies in urban areas
Active living offers a substantial contribution to the mental and physical health of individuals, as well as to community wellbeing and social cohesion. Outdoor and green environments offer additional benefits and determine people’s involve-ment in physical exercise. Environmental policies put in place by local governments affect citizens’ adoption of active living and physical exercise. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between citizens’ levels of exercise participation in urban open spaces and the provision of exercise-friendly policies by the local authorities. Three hundred and seventy citizens participated in the present study who took part in walking, bicycling, or jogging/running during their leisure time in urban open spaces and outdoors. Research participants completed the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ; Shephard, 1997) and Environmentally Friendly Exercise Policy Questionnaire (Kontogianni, 2015), which consisted of three scales: “policy to enhance exercise,” “environmentally friendly exercise facilities,” and “intention to change personal habits.” Participants were divided into three different subgroups according to their time exercise scores: high, middle, and low. The results showed the statistically significant differences between time exercise scores and environmentally friendly exercise policy scales. Citizens with higher exercise time participation expressed significantly higher levels on the environmentally friendly exercise policy scales. Citizens’ physical exercise time in urban open spaces and outdoors seemed to affect the creation of corresponding preferences, beliefs, and inten-tions towards environmentally friendly policies. City leaders, essential decision-makers, and stakeholders are expected to provide an enabling environment, legitimacy, and leadership that fosters the development and implementation of policies that support physical activity and green active living within urban spaces.