People who have more green spaces in their surroundings are likely to exercise and cycle for short amount of time, a new study has found.
For the study, about five thousand Dutch residents were surveyed, which involved completing a questionnaire.
The survey questions focused on participants' physical activity and self perceived health.
Researchers also calculated the percentage of green space within a 1 km and 3 km radius around the house for each resident.
"Little is known about the way in which green space exerts a beneficial effect. Several explanations are possible," said lead author of the study Jolanda Maas.
"In this study we investigate whether a green living environment encourages people to undertake physical activity. We found there was no or a negative relationship between the amount of green space in people's environment and whether they played sports, walked or cycled for leisure," she added.
During the study, Maas and her team found that while walking and cycling is favoured by the largest part of the population, there was a negative relationship between the amount of green space and levels of walking or cycling for leisure.
In other words, people living near to green spaces walked less often, probably as their shops and facilities were further away so they relied more heavily on the use of their car.
Apparently closeness of destinations is more important for walking and cycling during leisure time in the Netherlands than availability of green space.
"We found that physical activity is not a likely cause behind the apparent relationship between green space and health. If people don't live near green space they may seek alternative places to exercise. In the future, we need to look at where it is people choose to exercise to understand this more clearly," Maas said.
"People's perception of their green space may motivate their behaviour more than the availability of green space itself. What is clear is that the amount people exercise is not related to the amount of green space they live near," she added.
The study is published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.