Background: Socioecological models highlight the potential direct and indirect effects of multiple levels of influence in explaining physical activity (PA). Social cognitive theories, however, position individual cognitions as the mediator of external factors such as the built environment when explaining PA. Purpose: To appraise the evidence for direct and indirect associations between the built environment and social cognition to predict PA. Methods: Literature searches were concluded in February 2019 using five common databases. Eligible studies were in the English language that included any direct and indirect tests of individual perceptions and the built environment with PA. Results: The initial search yielded 18,521 hits, which was reduced to 46 independent studies of primarily medium quality after screening for eligibility criteria. Findings were grouped by type of PA then grouped by the type of individual and built environment constructs within the model, and subdivided by adult and youth samples. There was evidence that self-efficacy/perceived control accounted for the covariance between environmental accessibility/convenience and total PA, while habit accounted for the covariance in this relationship for transport PA, particularly in adult samples. There was no evidence that the built environment had a direct association with PA after controlling for individual-level factors. Conclusions: The results provide initial support for the mediation tenet in social cognition models for the relationship between individual, built environment, and PA. In practice, these findings highlight the need for coordinated interventions of individual and environmental change.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health