Neighborhood walkability, physical activity, and walking for transportation: A cross-sectional study of older adults living on low income Chudyk, Anna M.; McKay, Heather A; Winters, Meghan; Sims-Gould, Joanie; Ashe, Maureen C
Background: Walking, and in particular, outdoor walking, is the most common form of physical activity for older adults. To date, no study investigated the association between the neighborhood built environment and physical activity habits of older adults of low SES. Thus, our overarching aim was to examine the association between the neighborhood built environment and the spectrum of physical activity and walking for transportation in older adults of low socioeconomic status. Methods: Cross-sectional data were from the Walk the Talk Study, collected in 2012. Participants (n = 161, mean age = 74 years) were in receipt of a rental subsidy for low income individuals and resided in neighbourhoods across Metro Vancouver, Canada. We used the Street Smart Walk Score to objectively characterize the built environment main effect (walkability), accelerometry for objective physical activity, and the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS) questionnaire to measure walking for transportation. We used regression analyses to examine associations of objectively measured physical activity [total volume, light intensity and moderate intensity physical activity (MVPA)] and self-reported walking for transportation (any, frequency, duration) with walkability. We adjusted analyses for person- and environment-level factors associated with older adult physical activity. Results: Neighbourhood walkability was not associated with physical activity volume or intensity and self-reported walking for transportation, with one exception. Each 10-point increase in Street Smart Walk Score was associated with a 45% greater odds of any walking for transportation (compared with none; OR = 1.45, 95% confidence interval = 1.18, 1.78). Sociodemographic, physical function and attitudinal factors were significant predictors of physical activity across our models. Conclusions: The lack of associations between most of the explored outcomes may be due to the complexity of the relation between the person and environment. Given that this is the first study to explore these associations specifically in older adults living on low income, this study should be replicated in other settings.
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