The purpose of this study was to estimate the association between environmental variables and leisure-time physical activity levels in an adult population of a medium-sized city in Brazil. This is a cross-sectional study with a sample of 965 adults (20–59 years). Individual, socioeconomic, demographic and behavioral data were obtained through a population-based survey. Environmental data were collected through direct observation and subsequently georeferenced. The outcome variable was leisure-time physical activity level, dichotomized as insufficiently active (<150 min/week) and active (≥150 min/week). Physical activity-related facilities were categorized as public or private, and food outlets as healthy, unhealthy or mixed. Monthly per capita income and crime rate by census tract were used to categorize the social environment. Statistical analysis was performed using binary logistic regression (generalized estimating equation models). A direct association was found between the availability of public (adjusted OR = 2.16; 95% CI = 1.44–3.25) and private (adjusted OR = 1.21; 95% CI = 1.02–1.44) physical activity facilities in the census tract and leisure-time physical activity. A greater availability of mixed food establishments was associated with higher leisure-time physical activity levels (adjusted OR = 1.10; 95% CI = 1.004–1.22). Environmental characteristics can contribute together to leisure-time physical activity and could be the focus of policies aimed at promoting physical activity in middle-income countries.

This research estimated how leisure-time physical activity relates to environmental aspects in an adult population of a medium-sized city in Brazil. Nine hundred sixty-five adults (20–59 years) participated in a survey to give individual, socioeconomic, demographic and behavioral information. Researchers also directly observed the environment to collect data and subsequently georeferenced it, to further apply regression models (statistical analysis). Being active during leisure, (i.e. practicing 150 min/week or more), was related to having more public (city squares and outdoor gyms, walking areas and university campus) and private physical activity facilities (clubs, courts, sports halls, soccer fields and gyms), as well as having greater availability of mixed food establishments (restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and hypermarkets). Therefore, environmental characteristics can contribute together to leisure-time physical activity and could be the focus of policies aimed at promoting physical activity in middle-income countries.

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