Physical environmental factors related to walking and cycling in older adults: the Belgian aging studiesReport as inadecuate

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BMC Public Health

, 12:142

Health behavior, health promotion and society


BackgroundSocio-ecological models emphasize the relationship between the physical environment and physical activity PA. However, knowledge about this relationship in older adults is limited. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate the relationship between area of residence urban, semi-urban or rural and older adults- walking and cycling for transportation and recreation. Additionally, relationships between several physical environmental factors and walking and cycling and possible moderating effects of area of residence, age and gender were studied.

MethodsData from 48,879 Flemish older adults collected in 2004-2010 through peer research were analyzed. Walking, cycling and environmental perceptions were assessed using self-administered questionnaires. The Study Service of the Flemish Government provided objective data on municipal characteristics. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were applied.

ResultsUrban participants were more likely to walk daily for transportation compared to rural OR = 1.43; 95% CI = 1.22, 1.67 and semi-urban participants OR = 1.32; 95% CI = 1.13, 1.54. Urban participants were less likely to cycle daily for transportation compared to semi-urban participants OR = 0.72; 95% CI = 0.56, 0.92. Area of residence was unrelated to weekly recreational walking-cycling. Perceived short distances to services ORs ranging from 1.04 to 1.19 and satisfaction with public transport ORs ranging from 1.07 to 1.13 were significantly positively related to all walking-cycling behaviors. Feelings of unsafety was negatively related to walking for transportation OR = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.91, 0.95 and recreational walking-cycling OR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.92, 0.97. In females, it was also negatively related to cycling for transportation OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.90, 0.98.

ConclusionsUrban residents were more likely to walk for transportation daily compared to semi-urban and rural residents. Daily cycling for transportation was less prevalent among urban compared to semi-urban residents. Access to destinations appeared to be important for promoting both walking and cycling for transportation and recreation across all demographic subgroups. Additionaly, feelings of unsafety were associated with lower rates of walking for transportation and walking-cycling for recreation in all subgroups and cycling for transportation in females. No clear patterns emerged for other environmental factors.

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Author: Jelle Van Cauwenberg - Peter Clarys - Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij - Veerle Van Holle - Dominique Verté - Nico De Witte - Liesbeth



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