RIVM logo, National Institute for Public Healthe and the Enviroment. Minsty of Health, Welfare and Sport

Physical environmental and financial determinants of sports, physical activity and sedentary behaviour

Ruimtelijke en financiële determinanten van sporten, bewegen en sedentair gedrag : Verkenning van de literatuur en cijfers uit twee Nederlandse studies


Based on international literature reviews, RIVM has provided an overview of potential physical environmental determinants of sports and physical activity. For adults and elderly persons these are, among others, availability of parks and recreational facilities in the vicinity, a pedestrian infrastructure, and the attractiveness of the neighbourhood. For children and adolescents, the presence of formal and informal playing areas, parks, water, road safety, and diversity in cycling and walking routes are of importance. These international reviews provided little information on the influence of the financial environment on sports and physical activity. However, in several studies it was shown that a low socioeconomic status is correlated with a lower level of physical activity, sports and recreational walking.

Little research is available on potential physical environmental and financial determinants of sedentary behaviour (activities with a low activity level that are performed while in a sitting or reclining posture), e.g. screen-related activities such as computer work, playing video games or watching television. This research was commissioned by the ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sports. The results can be used to develop policies to stimulate physical activity.

Financial factors more often a barrier than physical environmental factors
Dutch research using questionnaires shows that costs more often are perceived as a barrier than physical environmental factors. In each age category, less than 8% of respondents indicated that physical environmental factors were a barrier to become physically active. Whereas costs were a barrier for 11% of children, 17% of adolescents, 13 to 17 % of adults, and 7 to 8 % of elderly. However, for the interpretation of these figures, it should be considered that only a limited number of all potential barriers were listed, such as lack of facilities in the vicinity, and safety of facilities. There were no substantial differences in barriers between people who do or do not practise sports on a regular basis, or between people with or without physical limitations.

Home / Documents and publications / Physical environmental and financial determinants of sports, physical activity and sedentary behaviour

RIVM Committed to health and sustainability