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How does Time Use and availability affect the associations between Activity Space, the environment and Physical Activity among European Adults?

Project description

Timing European adults’ physical activity

Lack of physical activity can increase the risk of people developing non-communicable diseases. Two thirds of the adult population (aged 15 years or more) in the European Union do not reach recommended levels of physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week). The two most cited reasons: living in obesogenic environments and a lack of time. The EU-funded TUASPA project will investigate the associations between physical activity and the built environment in terms of time availability and time perception. The study will take place in the Spanish city of Barcelona where the physical activity of 150 employed adults will be monitored using GPS and accelerometer devices.


European adults are in dire need of increasing their physical activity (PA) levels. Leading an active lifestyle helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve mental health and cognitive function. The WHO estimates that physical inactivity is responsible for more than one million premature deaths/year in the European region alone, as 40% of European adults fail to reach PA recommendations.

Living in obesogenic environments is one culprit for the lack of PA and one that has been extensively studied by environmental epidemiologists. A second cause of physical inactivity, is lack of time, but despite being frequently cited in studies and surveys, time use and time pressure have been seldom addressed in relation with the built environment. PA campaigns can be easily spoiled if people have no time available to invest in exercising. And in our contemporary societies, time availability is also deeply rooted on the built environment and the characteristics of our activity spaces. Factors such as how long our commute is, or whether one can connect home-work-school with public transit are going to affect both how much time we have left, and how much PA do we gain from active transport.

This project aims at addressing this glaring gap in the literature, by incorporating time availability and time perceptions to the study of the associations between PA and the built environment. It does so by recruiting 150 employed adults (50% women; 33% with children) in the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona and tracking their PA patterns during a week, using a GPS and accelerometer devices. Time availability is assessed using daily EMA surveys aimed at describing their subjective use of time in relation with their physical activity.

By triangulating GPS, accelerometer, GIS and EMA measures this project will build informed activity spaces that will allow to examine the associations between the environment and PA through the new lens of time availability.


Net EU contribution
€ 172 932,48
Edif a campus de la uab bellaterra cerdanyola v
08193 Cerdanyola del valles

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00