Access to commercial destinations within the neighbourhood and walking among Australian older adults

Nathan, Andrea, Pereira, Gavin, Foster, Sarah, Hooper, Paula, Saarloos, Dick, & Giles-Corti, Billie (2012) Access to commercial destinations within the neighbourhood and walking among Australian older adults. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(133).

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BACKGROUND: Physical activity, particularly walking, is greatly beneficial to health; yet a sizeable proportion of older adults are insufficiently active. The importance of built environment attributes for walking is known, but few studies of older adults have examined neighbourhood destinations and none have investigated access to specific, objectively-measured commercial destinations and walking.

METHODS: We undertook a secondary analysis of data from the Western Australian state government's health surveillance survey for those aged 65--84 years and living in the Perth metropolitan region from 2003--2009 (n = 2,918). Individual-level road network service areas were generated at 400 m and 800 m distances, and the presence or absence of six commercial destination types within the neighbourhood service areas identified (food retail, general retail, medical care services, financial services, general services, and social infrastructure). Adjusted logistic regression models examined access to and mix of commercial destination types within neighbourhoods for associations with self-reported walking behaviour.

RESULTS: On average, the sample was aged 72.9 years (SD = 5.4), and was predominantly female (55.9%) and married (62.0%). Overall, 66.2% reported some weekly walking and 30.8% reported sufficient walking (>=150 min/week). Older adults with access to general services within 400 m (OR = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.07-1.66) and 800 m (OR = 1.20, 95% CI = 1.02-1.42), and social infrastructure within 800 m (OR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.01-1.40) were more likely to engage in some weekly walking. Access to medical care services within 400 m (OR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.63-0.93) and 800 m (OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.70-0.99) reduced the odds of sufficient walking. Access to food retail, general retail, financial services, and the mix of commercial destination types within the neighbourhood were all unrelated to walking.

CONCLUSIONS: The types of neighbourhood commercial destinations that encourage older adults to walk appear to differ slightly from those reported for adult samples. Destinations that facilitate more social interaction, for example eating at a restaurant or church involvement, or provide opportunities for some incidental social contact, for example visiting the pharmacy or hairdresser, were the strongest predictors for walking among seniors in this study. This underscores the importance of planning neighbourhoods with proximate access to social infrastructure, and highlights the need to create residential environments that support activity across the life course.

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ID Code: 67179
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Physical activity, Walking, Built environment, Neighbourhood, Destinations, Objective measurement, Older adults, Seniors
DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-133
ISSN: 1479-5868
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Preventive Medicine (111716)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > HUMAN GEOGRAPHY (160400) > Human Geography not elsewhere classified (160499)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Nathan et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Deposited On: 12 Feb 2014 02:01
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2014 13:53

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