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Am J Prev Med. 2009 Sep;37(3):207-13. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.06.005.

Neighborhood safety, socioeconomic status, and physical activity in older adults.

Author information

1
Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. retucker@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Neighborhood environment can have a substantial influence on the level of physical activity among older adults. Yet, the moderating influence of various measures of SES on the association between perceived neighborhood safety and leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) among older adults remains unknown.

PURPOSE:

The study was designed to investigate the association between perceived neighborhood safety and LTPA in a nationally representative sample of older adults, and to evaluate SES characteristics as potential effect modifiers in the association between perceived neighborhood safety and LTPA.

METHODS:

Cross-sectional data from the 2004 Health and Retirement Study of older adults aged >or=50 years were used to examine the association between perceived neighborhood safety and LTPA. Differences in LTPA were evaluated across three measures of SES: education, household income, and household wealth. SES was also evaluated as a potential effect modifier in the association between perceived neighborhood safety and LTPA. The analysis was conducted in 2008.

RESULTS:

An SES gradient in LTPA was noted across measures of SES used in this study. After controlling for SES and demographic characteristics and functional limitations, older adults who perceived their neighborhood as safe had an 8% higher mean rate of LTPA compared to older adults who perceived their neighborhood as unsafe. The association was no longer significant when self-rated health was added. Additionally, SES was not a significant effect modifier in the association between perceived neighborhood safety and LTPA.

CONCLUSIONS:

SES, demographic characteristics, and functional limitations substantially attenuated the positive association between perceived neighborhood safety and LTPA; however, with the inclusion of self-rated health, the association was no longer present. This finding suggests that self-rated health may mediate this association. The lack of significance in the interaction between perceived neighborhood safety and SES suggests that prevention efforts to increase physical activity among older adults should consider perceptions of neighborhood safety as a potential barrier regardless of SES.

PMID:
19595554
PMCID:
PMC3685411
DOI:
10.1016/j.amepre.2009.06.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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