What determines walking of older people in their neighborhood?


Based on literature review and five focus groups, a model was analyzed describing individual, social environmental and physical environmental (perceived) determinants of walking by older people. Aim was to test whether these determinants were significantly associated with the duration of walking by older people (N = 567, 50 - 80 years) in a middle-sized Dutch town. Walking time was best predicted by attitude towards walking (partial correlation in model (partial r) 0.18; p < 0.05), social contacts (partial r 0.12, p < 0.05), perceived quality of life (partial r 0.21 p < 0.01), satisfaction with the demographics of the neighborhood (partial r - 0.14, p < 0.01), and walking outside the neighborhood (partial r 0.28 p < 0.01). The model explained 20% of the total variance in walking time. Conclusion is that individual and social determinants predicted the most variance in walking time and that perceived environmental determinants played only a minor role. Health promotion actions may benefit from these insights.

Share and Cite:

Hopman-Rock, M. , Vries, S. , Bakker, I. and Ooijendijk, W. (2012) What determines walking of older people in their neighborhood?. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2, 279-286. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2012.23040.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Nelson, M.E., Rejeski, W.J., Blair, S.N., Duncan, P.W., Judge, J.O., King, A.C, et al. (2007) Physical activity and public health in older adults: recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39, 1435-1445. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3180616aa2
[2] Chodzko-Zajko, W.J., Proctor, D.N., Fiatarone Singh, M.A., Minson, C.T., Nigg, C.R., Salem, G.J., et al. (2009) American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41, 1510-1530. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0c95c
[3] Christmas, C. and Andersen, R.A. (2000) Exercise and older patients: Guidelines for the clinician. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 48, 318-324.
[4] Etnier, J.L., Nowell, P.M., Landers, D.M. and Sibley, B.A. (2006) A meta-regression to examine the relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive performance. Brain Research Reviews, 52, 119-130. doi:10.1016/j.brainresrev.2006.01.002
[5] Van Uffelen, J.G.Z., Chin A.P., J.M., Marijke, Hopman-Rock, M. and van Mechelen, W. (2008) The effects of exercise on cognition in older adults with and without cognitive decline: A systematic review. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 18, 486-500. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181845f0b
[6] Yaffe, K., Barnes, D., Nevitt, M., Lui, L.Y. and Covinsky, K. (2001) A prospective study of physical activity and cognitive decline in elderly women: Women who walk. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161, 1703-1708. doi:10.1001/archinte.161.14.1703
[7] Netz, Y., Wu, M., Becker, B.J. and Tenenbaum, G. (2005) Physical activity and psychological well-being in advanced age: A meta-analysis of intervention studies. Psychology & Aging, 20, 272-284. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.20.2.272
[8] Miller, M.E., Rejeski, W.J., Reboussin, B.A., Ten Have, T.R. and Ettinger, W.H. (2000) Physical activity, functional limitations, and disability in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 48, 1264-1272.
[9] Nusselder, W.J., Looman, C.W., Franco, O.H., Peeters, A., Slingerland, A.S. and Mackenbach, J.P. (2008) The relation between non-occupational physical activity and years lived with and without disability. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 62, 823-828. doi:10.1136/jech.2007.067165
[10] Kemper, H.C.G., Ooijen-dijk, W.T.M. and Stiggelbout, M. (2000) Consensus on the Dutch standard of healthy exercise. Tijdschrift voor Gezondheidswetenschappen/TSG, 78, 180-183.
[11] Hildebrandt, V., Chorus, A.M.J. and Stubbe, J.H. (2010) Trend report physical activity and health 2008/2009. TNO Kwaliteit van Leven, Leiden.
[12] Fisher, K.J., Pickering, A. and Li, F. (2002) Healthy aging through active leisure: De-sign and methods of SHAPE— A randomized controlled trial of a neighborhood-based walking project. World Leisure, 1, 19-28. doi:10.1080/04419057.2002.9674257
[13] Sallis, J., Owen, N. and Fisher, E. (2000) Ecological Models of health behavior. In: Glanz, K., Rimer, B. and Viswanath, K., Eds., Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice, 4th Edition, Jossey-Bass United States, 465-482.
[14] Trost, S.G., Owen, N., Bauman, A.E., Sallis, J.F. and Brown, W. (2002) Correlates of adults’ participation in physical activity: Review and update. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34, 1996-2001. doi:10.1097/00005768-200212000-00020
[15] Morgan, D., O’Brien, K. (1993) Improving survey questionnaires through focus groups. In: Morgan, D., Ed. Successful Focus Groups: Advancing the State of the Art, Sage, London, 105-118.
[16] Van der Zee, K.I. and Sanderman, R. (1993) Measuring general health with the RAND-36. A manual. Noordelijk centrum voor gezondheidsvraagstukken, Groningen.
[17] Borst, H.C., de Vries, S.I., Graham, J.M.A., van Dongen, J.E., Bakker, I. and Miedema, H.M.E. (2009) Influence of environmental street characteristics on walking route choice of elderly people. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 477-84. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2009.08.002
[18] Borst, H.C., Miedema, H.M.E., de Vries, S.I., Graham, J.M.A. and van Dongen, J.E.F. (2008) Relationships between street characteristics and perceived attractiveness for walking reported by elderly people. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28, 353-361. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2008.02.010
[19] De Melo, L.L., Menec, V., Porter, M.M. and Ready, A.E. (2010) Personal factors, perceived environment, and objectively measured walking in old age. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 18, 280-92.
[20] Nagel, C.L., Carlson, N.E., Bosworth, M. and Michael, Y.L. (2008) The relation between neighborhood built en- vironment and walking activity among older adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 15, 461-468. doi:10.1093/aje/kwn158
[21] Sallis, F.J., Bowles, H.R., Bauman, A., Ainsworth, B.E., Bull, F.C., Craig, C.L., et al. (2009) Neighborhood environments and physical activity among adults in 11 countries. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 36, 484-490. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.01.031
[22] Carlson, J.A., Sallis, J.F., Conway, T.L., Saelens, B.E., Frank, L.D., Kerr, J., et al. (2011) Interactions between psychosocial and built environment factors in explaining older adults’ physical activity. Preventive Medicine, 54, 68-73. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.10.004
[23] Temple, V., Rhodes, R. and Hoggins, J.W. (2011) Unleashing physical activity: An observational study of park use, dog walking, and physical activity. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 8, 766-774.
[24] Stiggelbout, M., Hopman-Rock, M. and van Mechelen, W. (2008) Entry correlates and motivations of older adults participating in organized exercise programs. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 16, 342-354.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.