A Brazilian study, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, showed important changes in built environments for physical activity, highlighting these chances across different regions of the city, income groups, population densities and in the form of a cohort study.

For the attention of: Governor, Mayor and municipal secretaries of the City of Sao Paulo: Organisations and actors engaged in urban change for health in middle-income countries.

The problem: Considering the growing effort to reduce environmental inequities in terms of access and choice for physical activity, it is important to consider how environmental and policy interventions happen across different divisions of a given city such as regions (i.e. downtown vs. peripheral areas), income groups, neighborhoods, and homes. In addition, regular evaluations of the environmental interventions through policies may encourage public health agencies and policymakers to maintain or adjust these actions.

What we did and why: We described longitudinal changes in the built environment relevant leisure-time physical activity and active travel in Sao Paulo city, Brazil, between 2015 and 2020. For this we used using public online library of geospatial databases, and databases of the specific municipal/state secretariats and laws/decrees. In addition, we were able to describe those changes across different regions of the city, income groups, population densities and in the form of a cohort study through time.

What our study adds: Our study shows important changes in built environment facilities for physical activity promotion in Sao Paulo city.  We found the following changes between 2015 and 2020: Outdoor gyms (+109.6%), bike paths (+67.7%), train, subway stations and bus terminals (+15.4%), and sports facilities (+12.0%) – were the attributes we studies that grew the most. We also show different patterns of growth with reference to various regions of the city and census tracts’ income.

Implications for city policy and practice: The findings have policy and design implications. They can be used to verify whether policies such as the New Master Plan, Urban Mobility Plan, and Statute of Pedestrian are being executed effectively; whether they are achieving the ambition to build a city that is better and fairer for people, and promoting a favourable environment to the physical activity.

For further information: 

GEPAFHomepage of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Group at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (GEPAF-USP).

Geosampa: o Paulo public online library of geospatial database. Interactive online resource for information, analysis  and interrogation. 

Full research article: Built environments for physical activity: a longitudinal descriptive analysis of Sao Paulo city, Brazil by Inaian Pignatti Teixeira (@InaianTeixeira), João Paulo dos Anjos Souza Barbosa, Ligia Vizeu Barrozo, Adriano Akira Ferreira Hino, Priscila Missaki Nakamura, Douglas Roque Andrade, Suzanne Mavoa, Gavin Turrell, Rodrigo Siqueira Reis and Alex Antonio Florindo