Physical activity and local blue/green space access during the COVID-19 pandemic




Nicklett, Emily J.
Sharma, Bonita B.
Testa, Alexander

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SAGE Publications


Purpose: To examine whether local blue and green space access was associated with weekly physical activity frequency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Population-based, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (May and June 2021).

Sample: Adults, ages 18-94 (N = 1,771).

Measures: Self-reported data included the presence of blue spaces (e.g., lakes, outdoor swimming pools, riverside trails) and green spaces (e.g., parks, forests, or natural trails) in their neighborhoods, and days of physical activity per week (e.g., running, swimming, bicycling, lifting weights, playing sports, or doing yoga).

Analysis: Multiple Poisson regression assessed relationships between blue and green spaces and physical activity, with coefficients transformed into incidence risk ratios (IRR).

Results: Among participants, 67.2% reported living near a blue space and 86.1% reported living near a green space. Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to blue and green spaces were observed, with less access among non-Hispanic Black participants and those with lower income and educational attainment. Living near blue (IRR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.10, 1.39) or green space (IRR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.02, 1.54) was significantly associated with more frequent weekly physical activity.

Conclusion: Proximity to blue or green spaces is associated with more frequent physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health promotion efforts should include equitable strategies to improve accessibility to blue and green spaces.



physical activity, environmental support, blue space, green space, COVID-19, health promotion, social disparities


Nicklett, E. J., Sharma, B. B., & Testa, A. (2024). Physical Activity and Local Blue/Green Space Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic. American Journal of Health Promotion, 0(0). doi:10.1177/08901171241244892


Social Work