Neighbourhood greenspace is associated with a slower decline in physical activity in older adults: a prospective cohort study

Dalton, Alice M., Wareham, Nick, Griffin, Simon and Jones, Andrew P. (2016) Neighbourhood greenspace is associated with a slower decline in physical activity in older adults: a prospective cohort study. SSM - Population Health, 2. 683–691. ISSN 2352-8273

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Maintaining physical activity in later life is important for maintaining health and function. Activity outdoors, such as walking, jogging and cycling, may provide an accessible, sociable and practical solution, but maintaining outdoor mobility may be a challenge in later life. Providing green environments which are supportive of physical activity may facilitate this, yet research into how greenspace could be best used is inconclusive. This study evaluates the role of greenspace in protecting against decline in physical activity over time in older adults.  Data from the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer Norfolk, UK, cohort 1993-2009 (N=15,672) was used. Linear regression modelling was used to examine the association between exposure to greenspace in the home neighbourhood and change in overall, recreational and outdoor physical activity measured in terms of metabolic equivalent cost (MET) in hours/week. Mediation analysis was conducted to assess if dog walking explained the relationship between greenspace and physical activity change. Models were adjusted for known and hypothesised confounders.  People living in greener neighbourhoods experienced less of a decline in physical activity than those living in less green areas. Comparing change for those living in the greenest versus least green quartiles, participants showed a difference in overall physical activity of 4.21 MET hours/week (trend P=0.001), adjusted for baseline physical activity, age, sex, BMI, social class and marital status. This difference was 4.03 MET hours/week for recreational physical activity (trend P<0.001) and 1.28 MET hours/week for outdoor physical activity (trend P=0.007). Dog walking partially mediated the association between greenspace and physical activity change, by 22.6% for overall, 28.1% for recreational and 50.0% for outdoor physical activity (all P<0.001).  Greenspace in the home neighbourhood may be protective against decline in physical activity among older people as they age. Dog walking is a potential mechanism in this relationship, and warrants further investigation as a way of maintaining physical activity in later life.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright. 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Uncontrolled Keywords: physical activity,greenspace exposure,older adults,dog walking,sdg 3 - good health and well-being ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/good_health_and_well_being
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2016 00:44
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 01:30
DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.09.006

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