Institute for Health & Ageing

Promoting positive ageing and an age friendly society

The neighbourhood physical environment and active travel in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Professor Ester Cerin, with Dr Andrea Nathan, David Barnett and Dr Anthony Barnett from the Institute for Health and Ageing, and Jelle van Cauwenberg from the Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Belgium, have published in International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies on the neighbourhood physical environment and active travel in older adults.

This review was undertaken on behalf of the Council on Environment and Physical Activity of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health. The findings of 42 quantitative studies were summarised according to five active transport outcomes (e.g., walking for transport and cycling for transport) and seven categories of neighbourhood physical environment. Findings indicated a strong and consistent association between neighbourhood walkability and older adults’ total walking for transport, and this applied to older adults’ in both high- and low-income neighbourhoods. Having access to destinations in the neighbourhood was a key predictor of active transport. The most important types of destination supporting active transport included public transport stops, shops/commercial precincts and parks/open spaces/ recreational facilities.

The authors suggest that future research should identify mixes of destinations that facilitate active transport in older adults and how these interact with individual characteristics and other environmental factors (e.g., traffic safety or aesthetics).

The paper has been accessed over 1200 times in a month and is in the top 3% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric.

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