Home neighborhood motivates older people to physical activity

March 30, 2017, University of Jyväskylä

A recent study conducted at the Gerontology Research Center of the University of Jyväskylä shows that walk-friendly environmental design may provide opportunities for physical activity in old age. However, especially when mobility function starts to decline, it is important that older adults are aware of attractive environmental factors in their neighborhood.

Physical activity helps to maintain health and function. In old age, physical activity takes place mostly in the home neighborhood. Thus it is important to know if there are attractive environmental features in the neighborhood to motivate to physical activity also when they experience physical limitations, Senior Researcher Erja Portegijs explains.

The results of this study show that physical activity was higher in participants living in a neighborhood with higher walkability. The walkability index reflects opportunities to walk to different destinations, e.g. for shopping and meeting people. The walkability index is an objective measure that can be calculated from open-source geographical information (maps).

The results also show that participants reporting higher numbers of environmental facilitators for outdoor mobility also reported higher levels of physical activity than those perceiving fewer environmental facilitators in their neighborhood. For example, nearby shops, nature and suitable walkways motivated participants to outdoor mobility. The relationship was especially strong for those with limited physical function.

It seems that perceiving attractive factors in the environment becomes especially important for when mobility function starts to decline and people may need to choose more carefully how to use their energy during the day, Portegijs concludes.

In total 839 inhabitants of Jyväskylä and Muurame in Central Finland participated in this study. The study participants were 75–90 years old and were interviewed at home. Participants were grouped according to the score obtained from a mobility test. Physical was assessed by a self-report questionnaire and with an accelerometer that was worn for one week.

All participants were asked about environmental factors that motivated them to go outdoors. By mapping the home address and studying the area up to 1 km from home, the researchers calculated an objective walkability index for their neighborhood. The is based on land use mix, population density and road network connectivity in the area.

Explore further: Out-of-home activities may promote older persons' physical activity

More information: Erja Portegijs et al. Physical Limitations, Walkability, Perceived Environmental Facilitators and Physical Activity of Older Adults in Finland, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2017). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14030333

Related Stories

Out-of-home activities may promote older persons' physical activity

August 10, 2015
It is beneficial to stimulate older people to leave home to increase their level of physical activity, suggests the study of postdoctoral researcher Erja Portegijs. The study, conducted at the Gerontology Research Center ...

Physical function and sense of autonomy determine life-space mobility in older people

April 9, 2014
Physical function and sense of autonomy are independent determinants of life-space mobility in older people. This was found in a study conducted at the Gerontology Research Center of the University of Jyväskylä. In this ...

First study to show parents' concerns about neighborhood restrict kids' outdoor play

January 10, 2017
A study conducted by LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health is the first to demonstrate that parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children's outdoor play. The study is published in the ...

Study finds parental perceptions of neighborhood environments affect children's active play

May 27, 2016
A University of Maryland study found that parental perceptions of the home neighborhood environment were linked to how physically active their children were on a daily basis.

Older people recovering from a hip fracture experience barriers for mobility in the home environment

November 20, 2013
About half of hip fracture patients reported barriers for mobility when entering the home or in the outdoor home environment. One year after the fracture, many people still experienced barriers, especially in the outdoor ...

Fit older adults are more active

November 16, 2015
"We found that fitness level had the strongest association with physical activity, followed by gender and season. This means that fit older adults were more active than the unfit, females were more active than males and physical ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.