People are less likely to walk when temperatures dip below zero, when there's too much rain or too much snow, according to a new research.
Researchers from McGill and Concordia universities observed pedestrians in nine cities around the world - Santa Cruz in the Canary Islands; Kilmarnock and Glasgow in Scotland; Rousse in Bulgaria; Gliwice in Poland Oulu and Jakobstad in Finland; Sion in Switzerland; and Ithaca in the United States - and their study lasted over 170 days from late fall to early summer.
"A 5 degree Celsius increase in temperature was associated with a 14 per cent increase in pedestrians," says first author Luc de Montigny, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at McGill University.
"A shift from snow to dry conditions was associated with an increase of 23 per cent in pedestrian traffic."
The authors state more people would walk if urban planners would design neighbourhoods that temper climatic extremes and use surfaces that are conducive to walking. Prompt snow removal and efficient drainage would also encourage pedestrian traffic.
"Given how obesity is increasingly affecting populations around the world, our study provides insight that shows people do walk when prepared for the weather," says de Montigny.
"Walking really doesn't require big lifestyle changes and can be facilitated when walking conditions are optimal," he added.
The study was published in the journal Environment and Behavior.