Perceived neighborhood walkability is associated with recent falls in urban dwelling older adults

Review written by Dr Mariana Wingood info

Key Points

  1. When prescribing walking as a mode of physical activity, neighborhood walkability (such as built environment) needs to be considered.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Physical activity is a necessary component for a healthy lifestyle and reduces the incidence of falls and falls risk among older adults (1). Among older adults, walking is the most commonly reported physical activity (2). It is therefore essential to consider personal, social, or environmental barriers to walking.

Part of environmental barriers is the built environment and walkability. Walkability is the rating of how easy it is to walk in an area and it is based on land use, street connectivity, residential density, presence of walking or cycling facilities, and safety (3). See Box 1 for additional details about physical activity-related environmental barriers and methods of assessments.

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The objectives of this study were to:

  • Describe urban-dwelling older adults’ perceptions of neighborhood walkability based on fall history.

  • Examine associations between neighborhood walkability constructs and falls whilst controlling for fall risk factors.

Among older adults, walking is the most commonly reported physical activity.
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Learning about a patient’s environmental barriers can help identify the resources or recommendations a patient may need to complete the recommended levels of physical activity.

METHODS

Participants: 132 urban-dwelling adults 65 years and older who could walk with or without an assistive device and receive medical services at a health clinic.

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