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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 333; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030333

Physical Limitations, Walkability, Perceived Environmental Facilitators and Physical Activity of Older Adults in Finland

1
Gerontology Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyvaskyla, 40014 Jyväskylän yliopisto, Finland
2
Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jean Woo
Received: 23 February 2017 / Revised: 17 March 2017 / Accepted: 17 March 2017 / Published: 22 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ageing Well: The Role of Age-Friendly Environments)
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Abstract

The aim was to study objectively assessed walkability of the environment and participant perceived environmental facilitators for outdoor mobility as predictors of physical activity in older adults with and without physical limitations. 75–90-year-old adults living independently in Central Finland were interviewed (n = 839) and reassessed for self-reported physical activity one or two years later (n = 787). Lower-extremity physical limitations were defined as Short Physical Performance Battery score ≤9. Number of perceived environmental facilitators was calculated from a 16-item checklist. Walkability index (land use mix, street connectivity, population density) of the home environment was calculated from geographic information and categorized into tertiles. Accelerometer-based step counts were registered for one week (n = 174). Better walkability was associated with higher numbers of perceived environmental facilitators (p < 0.001) and higher physical activity (self-reported p = 0.021, step count p = 0.010). Especially among those with physical limitations, reporting more environmental facilitators was associated with higher odds for reporting at least moderate physical activity (p < 0.001), but not step counts. Perceived environmental facilitators only predicted self-reported physical activity at follow-up. To conclude, high walkability of the living environment provides opportunities for physical activity in old age, but among those with physical limitations especially, awareness of environmental facilitators may be needed to promote physical activity. View Full-Text
Keywords: walking; physical function; walk-friendly environment; mobility limitation; age-friendly environment; physical activity; perceived environment; GIS; aging walking; physical function; walk-friendly environment; mobility limitation; age-friendly environment; physical activity; perceived environment; GIS; aging
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Portegijs, E.; Keskinen, K.E.; Tsai, L.-T.; Rantanen, T.; Rantakokko, M. Physical Limitations, Walkability, Perceived Environmental Facilitators and Physical Activity of Older Adults in Finland. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 333.

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