AMbit - Active Mobility in urban environments

Social-Ecological Determinants of Walkability and Public Health

At a Glance

AMbit (Active Mobility) is a collaborative and interdisciplinary project that examines the interrelation between features of the neighborhood environment, active mobility and mental health and includes social participation and lifestyles as interacting factors. The  aim is to derive indicators for the evaluation of health-promoting residential areas in bigger cities. AMbit combines theoretical and methodological approaches from social sciences and spatial planning to adress the concept of person-environment fit. Based on these findings, novel policies and interventions, such as neighborhood planning or restructuring, can be done to increase the physically active mobility, reduce motorized travel, and ultimately better mental health of urban populations.

Please visit the AMbit Homepage for further information.


A large number of people live in cities and constantly more are moving into urban environments. However, there is considerable evidence that the advantages of urban lifestyles are also accompanied with a higher prevalence for psychological stress and disorders, resulting in inactivity and social isolation. Based on this observation, continued urbanisation requires that urban design incorporates perspectives of healthy environments, including walkable neighbourhoods. So far, research on this topic has largely been the domain of spatial planning and the health sciences, focusing on the concept of walkability and individual predictors of active mobility. As a consequence of limited interdisciplinary exchange on the topic, little is known about the interaction and person-environment fit of influencing factors. To date, no adequate measures have been presented that would capture and allow for an assessment of health-promoting properties and potentials of urban neighbourhoods.

Aims of the Project

This study aims to identify the social- and built environmental factors that determine whether people who live in a city use physically active mobility modes. Also, this study aims at understanding the diverse needs of different social classes within a city. Based on this understanding, city planners can find the best possible ways to apply and implement actions, leading to an enhancement of physically active mobility modes in cities. Providing for better, often faster, and more healthy ways to get around a city will improve traffic and lead to cleaner air and improved mental well-being.

Methods and Implementation

This project uses a socio-ecological and interdisciplinary research framework to connect prominent theoretical and methodological approaches in spatial planning and social sciences. The operationalization of person-environment fit for active mobility uses the lifestyle concept rooted in social sciences as an innovative methodological novelty. The projects starts with a macro-analysis:  research areas will be selected from an analysis of archived spatial data in Stuttgart, which is the 6th biggest city in Germany and State Capital of Baden-Württemberg, exploring the relationship between lifestyles and active mobility. An assessment tool will help to identify features of selected neighbourhoods that promote physical activity (“micro-publics”). In addition, activity-triggered assessments capture the relationship between current well-being, social interaction and active mobility. Focus group interviews will verify the results and deliver a detailed understanding of lifestyle factors that moderate active mobility.


The AMbit project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Sport Science (University of Konstanz) and Geonformation and Monitoring (ILS - Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Geoinformation and Monitoring, Dortmund, Germany,

Funding (-Period)

The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) with a funding period of about 2 years (2020-2021) (total funding 390.000 EUR, Konstanz 195.000 EUR).

Project Team

Martina Kanning

Christina Niermann

Lukas Bollenbach