From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Availability of and access to physical activity opportunities and links with health behaviours and obesity among adults (APOLLO)

Obesity levels are rising with a simultaneous decline in physical activity. Efforts to increase physical activity levels which focus upon changing individuals’ behaviour have had limited success. Increasing attention has therefore been directed towards the potential of the local environment (e.g. the availability of physical activity amenities and resources) to influence physical activity levels and obesity. However, the precise mechanisms through which the UK environment can impact upon physical activity levels and obesity are not well understood. One potential contributory factor is the extent to which the availability of and access to facilities for physical activity is distributed equitably across different neighbourhoods. Most studies to date have been conducted in the USA or Australia, limiting their applicability to the UK. In this proposed study, we intend to examine firstly, the extent to which there is equitable distribution of the availability and access (by different modes of transport) to physical activity opportunities; secondly, to examine if the distribution of opportunity is associated with physical activity levels; and thirdly, to determine if this, in turn, is associated with obesity. We propose to examine these questions in relation to the Scottish population, with a particular focus on adults and fixed PA facilities such as sports centres, swimming pools and green space. Knowledge of the extent to which access and use of physical activity facilities and associations with obesity is socially patterned is important for informing the direction and focus of public health and planning policy. This work in funded by the NPRI. Click on APOLLO for further information.



Ellaway A, Ferguson N, Lamb K, Ogilvie D. Access to health promoting facilities and amenities. In: Stock C, Ellaway A, editors Neighbourhood structure and health promotion. New York: Springer, 2013:117-126.

open access  

Ferguson N, Lamb K, Ogilvie D, Wang Y, Ellaway A. Access to recreational physical activities by car and bus: an assessment of socio-spatial inequalities in mainland Scotland. PLoS One 2013;8:e55638

open access  


Lamb KE, Ogilvie D, Ferguson N, Murray J, Yang Wang Y, Ellaway A. Sociospatial distribution of access to facilities for moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity in Scotland by different modes of transport. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012;9:55

pubmed  open access  


Ogilvie D, Lamb K, Ferguson N, Ellaway A. Recreational physical activity facilities within walking and cycling distance: sociospatial patterning of access in Scotland . Health & Place 2011;17:1015-22



Lamb KE, Ferguson NS, Wang Y, Ogilvie D, Ellaway A. Distribution of physical activity facilities in Scotland by small area measures of deprivation and urbanicity. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2010;7:76

pubmed  open access  

Project Staff

Former Staff

External Collaborators