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This Is How We Design Our Cities for Physical Activity

A new report from Danish Health Authority gives specific examples of how city planning can inspire the citizens to become more physically active in the city.

The Danish Health Authority has asked the research unit Active Living from SDU’s Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics to gather the existing knowledge on interior design of cities and its connection to physical activity in a new report.

This report,”The Importance of the Environment to Physical Activity”( Omgivelsernes betydning for fysisk aktivitet), describes, among other things, how the physical distance from the home to  stores, schools, bus, metro and train stops can affect whether the citizens use active transport or not.

Accessibility is the key-word

Furthermore, this report focuses on how to create a good framework for easier access to outside areas, making children, adults and the elderly want for play and movement.

“In a public health perspective, it is important to think about accessibility. If there are opportunities to be physically active close to your residence, you are more likely to use these”, says Professor in Active Living, Jens Troelsen.

The report gives other examples of how municipalities, through city planning, can help inspire to and make it easier for citizens to become more physically active in the city. Municipalities can, for example, provide better opportunities for biking around the city, and easy access to outdoor areas and nature making these places invite to play and movement.

Three focus areas 

The report focuses on three areas: Interior design of cities, parks and green areas and schools. Within each of these areas, there is a specific focus on how one best designs the areas for children, adolescents and the elderly.

In their plans for the cities’ development, it is namely especially here, the municipalities can make a difference by thinking of the opportunities to be physically active. 

Additionally, city planning can, by focusing on physical activity, directly or indirectly, contribute to fulfilling UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which the report also mentions. 


Read more

·       The report is published by Danish Health Authority and produced by Professor and Head of Research of the Active Living unit at Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Jens Troelsen and member of staff, Trine Top Thagaard Wengel.

·         Read the report here (Danish).

Editing was completed: 28.11.2019