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Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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Older people, Neighborhood development, Walking


Examined the degree of association between perceived and objective characteristics of the neighborhood environment and the relation of each type of measurement to neighborhood walking in older adults. Participants included 105 adults aged 65-92 (mean age 75.1) from 10 neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon, participating in Senior Health and Physical Exercise (SHAPE), a randomized walking intervention. Neighborhoods were stratified by a "walking friendliness" ranking variable. This variable was derived for each neighborhood based on available social and environmental data that were hypothesized to correlate with walking and physical activity: high income, high older adult population density, high proportion of white residents, low crime rates, and higher number of facilities for walking, such as parks and gardens. Data on self-reported frequency of walking in the neighborhood and measures of perceived neighborhood environment (the presence of shopping malls, public parks, or trails for walking, hiking, or running; and, whether there were problems with vandalism, obstacles to walking, or lack of sidewalks or footpaths) gathered in interviews with the participants were linked to objective measures of the neighborhood assessed by geographic information systems and an audit instrument. Analyses revealed that nearly 30% of participants reported that they walked or strolled in the neighborhood often, and less than 12% reported not walking at all in the neighborhood. There was little agreement between the objective and perceived measures of neighborhood environment features. The presence of shopping malls and trails were positively associated with neighborhood walking, and the presence of graffiti and vandalism were negatively associated with neighborhood walking. It is concluded that the availability of utilitarian destinations (represented here as shopping malls) is positively associated with walking in older adults.


This is the publisher's final PDF. Article appears in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity and is Copyright © 2006 Human Kinetics, Inc.

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