Variations in community prevalence and determinants of recreational vs. utilitarian walking in older age
Methods: We analyzed walking habits among participants of a prospective cohort study of 745 community-dwelling men and women, mainly aged 70 years or older. We estimated neighborhood variations in utilitarian and recreational walking, and examined whether the variations were attributable to community differences in individual and environmental factors.
Results: One in three participants reported walking at least three days per week outside the home; 42% walked recreationally at least once a week; and 28% walked for utilitarian purposes at least once a week. Prevalence of recreational walking was relatively uniform while prevalence of utilitarian walking varied across the 16 communities in the study area. Both types of walking were associated with individual health and physical abilities. However, utilitarian walking was also strongly associated with several measures of neighborhood socioeconomic status (lower median household income, lower percent of housing units owner-occupied, and intermediate levels of housing vacancy and percent minority) and with shorter measured distance from the participant’s home to the nearest bus stop, subway, hospital, shopping center, post office, park, food store, town hall, and library, while recreational walking was not.
Conclusions: Utilitarian walking is strongly influenced by neighborhood environment, but intrinsic factors may be more important for recreational walking. Communities with the highest overall walking prevalence were those with the most utilitarian walkers. Public health promotion of regular walking should take this into account.
Learning Areas:Biostatistics, economics
Chronic disease management and prevention
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Evaluate extent and variations in community-level prevalence of recreational and utilitarian walking in older adults Analyze determinants of recreational vs. utilitarian walking in older adults Assess influences of built environment on older adults' walking behaviors
Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Built Environment
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator of multiple federally funded grants focusing on aging, physical activity and built environment. My primary research interest is to generate community-level health statistics to inform public health planning and evaluation. I am associate professor of medicine and biostatistics at the University of Massa chusetts Medical School.
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.