Activity space, environmental exposure, and subjective well-being: A multicity mobile health study

Authors: Huyen Le*, The Ohio State University, Yingling Fan, University of Minnesota, Trevin E. Glasgow, Virginia Commonwealth University, Steve Hankey, Virginia Tech
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Transportation Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: mHealth, ecological momentary assessment, activity space, well-being, mental health, urban form
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Recent studies of subjective well-being offer new evidence of how urban design can promote mental health, however, the relationship between subjective well-being and activity space is understudied. Often relying on small sample sizes and short tracking periods, past studies provide little evidence on how these relationships vary across jurisdictions that have different built environments and urban forms. We used EMA method to quantify the impacts of activity space and exposure to nature on momentary mood and overall subjective well-being. We conducted two smartphone-app surveys in three metropolitan areas in Virginia, District of Columbia, and Minnesota from Fall 2016 to Spring 2018 (n = 16,863 trips and 601 people). We tracked travelers’ movement and subjective well-being for 1-2 weeks. We tabulated route-based and origin/destination-based activity space, green space, and blue space and quantify their impacts on momentary and long-term subjective well-being. Our multilevel models show that the size of activity space and exposure to green and blue space are positively correlated with positive short-term subjective well-being but not long-term subjective well-being. Cyclists and pedestrians were more likely to experience positive affect after travel. Our study adds further evidence to the relationship between activity space, environmental exposure, and momentary subjective well-being. The findings imply the need for cities by providing public open space to induce well-being, especially for sustainable mode users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Future studies should focus on route-based exposure in addition to place-based exposure and explore the relationship between environmental factors and long-term subjective well-being.

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