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Am J Prev Med. 2010 Apr;38(4):419-28. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.12.031.

Lower-body function, neighborhoods, and walking in an older population.

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  • 1University of California, Berkeley, 94720, USA.



Poor lower-body capacity is associated with reduced mobility in older populations.


This study sought to determine whether neighborhood environments (e.g., land-use patterns and safety) moderate that association.


The study is based on a cross-sectional sample of 884 people aged > or =65 years identified through service organizations in Alameda County CA, Cook County IL, Allegheny County PA, and Wake and Durham counties NC. In-person interviews focused on neighborhood characteristics, physical and cognitive function, and physical activity and walking. Functional capacity was tested using measures of lower-body strength, balance, and walking speed. The main outcome was time spent walking in a typical week (<150 vs > or =150 minutes per week). Objective environmental measures were also included. Estimates of main and interaction effects were derived from regression models.


Living in a residential area, compared to a mixed-use or commercial area, was associated with less time spent walking (<150 minutes per week; OR=1.57, 95% CI=1.04, 2.38). Living in a less-compact area (greater median block length) is also significantly associated with less walking for seniors, but only among those with excellent lower-body strength.


Neighborhood type is associated with walking among older people, as it is among the general adult population. In individuals with poor lower-body function, no association was found between residence in a less-compact area and walking. For those people, the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and walking requires further study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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