Active travel

Getting from place to place by a physically active means, such as walking or cycling, non-motorised scooters or rollerblades. This can be commuting, for example to work or school; a journey to other destinations, for example between home and shops and local amenities; or walking and cycling for leisure.

Blue spaces

These include the sea, rivers, lakes and canals.

Built environment

This includes roads (carriageways), pavements (footways), the external areas of buildings and open 'grey' space, such as urban squares and pedestrianised areas.


The extent to which routes connect with other routes and destinations to allow an unbroken journey.


Using cycles for transport or leisure, including bikes, tricycles, tandems or hand cycles.


Paths that are separate from a road, over which the public have a right of way on foot only (see section 329(1) of the Highways Act 1980).


Paths that runs alongside a road, over which the public have a right of way on foot only (see section 329(1) of the Highways Act 1980). Commonly referred to as pavements.

Green spaces

These include urban parks, open green areas, woods and forests, coastland and countryside, and paths and routes connecting them.


Some studies examined greenway interventions. These studies were conducted in the USA and, in this context, greenways referred to strips of land that form open-space corridors, usually connecting urban areas. They tended to be reserved for recreational use or environmental conservation.

Grey spaces

Areas of developed land, including urban squares and pedestrian areas.

Home Zones

Home Zones aim to improve the quality of life in residential roads by making them places for people, instead of just being thoroughfares for vehicles. The key elements to a Home Zone are: community involvement to encourage a change in user behaviour; and for the road to be designed in such a way as to allow it to be used for a range of activities and to encourage very slow vehicle speeds (usually involving sensitively designed traffic calming. (The quiet lanes and home zones (England) regulations 2006).


Low levels of physical activity, often quantified as less than 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.

Land use mix

The variety of uses for land in an area, and the degree to which these are balanced. This can include residential, commercial, employment, recreational, and open space.

Metabolic equivalents or METs per unit of time

Metabolic equivalents or METs per unit of time. METs are a measure used to estimate the energy expenditure of physical activity and can be used to categorise activities into different intensities – the higher the MET, the higher the intensity. The committee discussed which measure was most appropriate for considering the change to total physical activity.

Natural environment

All areas of land that would occur naturally and are not artificial. This includes areas of undeveloped land and water.

Pavement parking

Parking part, or the whole, of a motorised vehicle on a pavement.

Physical activity

Physical activity is: Any force exerted by skeletal muscle that results in energy expenditure above resting level (Caspersen et al. 1985). It includes the full range of human movement and can encompass everything from competitive sport and active hobbies to walking, cycling and the general activities involved in daily living (such as housework and gardening).

Physical activity measurements

Physical activity is measured in terms of:

  • the time it takes (duration)

  • how often it occurs (frequency)

  • its intensity (the rate of energy expenditure – or rate at which calories are burnt).

The intensity of an activity is usually measured either in kcals per kg per minute or in METs (metabolic equivalents – multiples of resting metabolic rate). Depending on the intensity, the activity will be described as moderate intensity or vigorous intensity. Moderate-intensity activities increase the heart and breathing rates but, at the same time, allow someone to have a normal conversation. An example is brisk walking.

Public transport

Shared modes of transport that can be used by members of the public and are not owned by any individual member. They generally have fixed routes and schedules. This may include buses, coaches, trains, rapid transit systems, trams, and ferries.

Sedentary behaviour

'Activities that do not increase energy expenditure much above resting levels. There is a difference between sedentary and light physical activities. Activities considered sedentary include sitting, lying down and sleeping because they do not require any muscle recruitment. Associated activities, such as watching TV and reading, are also in the sedentary category. (Department of Health's Start Active, Stay Active).

Street furniture

Permanent or temporary items located on footways and pedestrianised areas. These may include chairs, hanging baskets and planters.

Translational research

Applies the findings of scientific research to practice to improve people's health and wellbeing.

Vending boards

Portable advertising boards placed on footways and in pedestrianised areas.

For other public health and social care terms see the Think Local, Act Personal Care and Support Jargon Buster.