Moderation effect of urban density on changes in physical activity during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

4 Scopus Citations
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  • Jiandong Peng
  • Linchuan Yang
  • Zhonghua Gou


Original languageEnglish
Article number103058
Journal / PublicationSustainable Cities and Society
Online published29 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


Various social distancing measures were carried out in many cities worldwide during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (COVID-19). These measures have led to decreased physical activity levels and higher health risks among urban populations. Strong evidence has been established that built environment characteristics can stimulate physical activity and thus improve public health during non-pandemic periods. Urban density was arguably one of the most important built environment characteristics. However, little is known about whether high urban density amplifies or attenuates the decline in physical activity during the pandemic. Based on two-wave physical activity data collected before and during the pandemic (in January and May 2020, respectively), we used moderation analysis to compare the changes in physical activity levels between people living in low- and high-density neighborhoods. Our results showed that people living in low-density areas have a smaller decrease in physical activity conducted in neighborhood, compared to those living in high-density areas. Our findings suggest that a flexible and porous urban development strategy could enhance the resilience of a city during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Research Area(s)

  • Built environment, COVID-19, Physical activity, Urban density, Urban design, Urban planning

Citation Format(s)