There is a need for greater understanding of setting-specific influences on physical activity to complement the predominant research paradigm of individual-centered influences on physical activity. In this study, the authors used a cross-sectional multilevel analysis to examine a range of neighborhood-level characteristics and the extent to which they were associated with variation in self-reported physical activity among older adults. The sample consisted of 582 community-dwelling residents age 65 years and older (M = 73.99 years, SD = 6.25) recruited from 56 neighborhoods in Portland, OR. Information collected from participants and neighborhood data from objective sources formed a two-level data structure. These hierarchical data (i.e., individuals nested within neighborhoods) were subjected to multilevel structural-equation-modeling analyses. Results showed that neighborhood social cohesion, in conjunction with other neighborhood-level factors, was significantly associated with increased levels of neighborhood physical activity. Overall, neighborhood-level variables jointly accounted for a substantial variation in neighborhood physical activity when controlling for individual-level variables.
Fisher and Li are with the Oregon Research Institute, 1715 Franklin Blvd., Eugene, OR 97403. Michael is with the Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97209. Cleveland is with the Oregon Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, 6072 SE Easterbrook Dr., Milwaukie, OR 97222.