Place matters: A longitudinal analysis measuring the association between neighbourhood walkability and walking by age group and population center size in Canada

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Abstract

This study examined the influence of walkability on walking behaviour and assessed whether associations varied according to life-stage and population center (PC) size. Walkability scores were obtained for the six-digit postal codes of residential neighbourhoods of 11,200 Canadians, who participated in biennial assessments of the National Population Health Survey from 1994 to 2010. Participants were stratified by age-group. Mixed-effects logistic regression models were used to estimate the influence of cumulative exposure to neighborhood walkability on utilitarian and exercise walking by PC size and life-stage. Associations of neighbourhood walkability with utilitarian and exercise walking varied according to age-group and PC size. Exposure to high walkable neighborhoods was associated with utilitarian walking in younger and older adults in all PC sizes, except for older adults living in a medium PC. Living in a highly walkable neighborhood in a large PC was associated with walking for exercise in younger (OR: 1.42; 95%CI: 1.20–1.67) and older adults (OR: 2.09; 95%CI: 1.51–2.89). Living in highly walkable neighbourhood in a medium PC was associated with walking for exercise in older adults (OR: 1.62; 95%CI: 1.15–2.29). These results emphasize the need to consider the size and nature of every community, and the age-group of a population when implementing strategies to promote walking.

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Wasfi, R., Steinmetz-Wood, M., & Kestens, Y. (2017). Place matters: A longitudinal analysis measuring the association between neighbourhood walkability and walking by age group and population center size in Canada. PLoS ONE, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189472

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