245746 Built environmental influences on walking: Age variations in environmental barriers and motivators

Monday, October 31, 2011: 9:42 AM

Chanam Lee, PhD, MLA , Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Marcia G. Ory, PhD, MPH , Social & Behavioral Health, Texas A&M HSC School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX
Jeongjae Yoon, MA , Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Samuel N. Forjuoh, MD, DrPH, FGCP , Department of Family & Community Medicine, Scott and White, Texas A&M HSC College of Medicine, Temple, TX
Objectives: There is growing attention to the influences of the built environment on health. This study is to contribute to the limited knowledge on environmental barriers and motivators to walking experienced by overweight and obese adults, and to examine the existence of age variations in perceived environmental influences.

Methods: Convenience survey of 161 overweight and obese adults recruited from a large integrated health care system in Central Texas provided data on walking and perceptions of environmental motivators and barriers. Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis were conducted.

Results: The study participants had a mean age of 48.4 and a mean BMI of 32.5, and were predominantly non-Hispanic White (86.3%). The top environmental barriers to walking were: bad weather (74.3%); not enough lighting at night (53.8%); no shade from trees or buildings (47.4%); unattended dogs (45.0%); no continuous sidewalks (44.4%); poor walking surfaces (43.9%); no interesting places to walk nearby (40.9%); and no benches or places to rest (40.4%). Two of the environmental "barriers" were significantly (p<0.1) more important for older adults aged 60 and older: poor walking surfaces, and no benches or places to rest. Further, older adults were less likely to report environmental “motivators” such as proximity to park and recreational facilities (22.2% vs. 46.3%) and to walking paths/trails (33.3% vs. 52.2%).

Conclusions: Overweight and obese adults experience substantial environmental barriers to walking. Age variations suggest that future research and interventions may be more effective if tailored to address specific barriers important for younger versus older adults.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To identify environmental barriers and motivators among obese and overweight adults To compare differences in the environmental influences on walking perceived by older versus younger adults To discuss specific environmental modifications to promote walking that may be particularly effective for older adults

Keywords: Environment, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning whose research expertise is in environmental approaches toward promoting active living.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.