Views From the Path: Evaluating Physical Activity Use Patterns and Design Preferences of Older Adults on the Bolin Creek Greenway Trail

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Though physical inactivity can lead to increased health problems in older adults, few places actually encourage this population to be active by implementing choices that allow the built and natural environment to be accessed by foot or bicycle. In addition, little research has examined older adults’ perceptions of design and the relationship between greenways and improving public health, a topic that is receiving popular attention. The objective of this mixed-methods study was therefore to evaluate elements in a greenway’s design that the aging population found important and which afforded physical activity. Using a combination of survey questions, photo elicitation, and interviews, data were collected from a sample of older adults aged 65 and over that used a greenway trail. Results of this study indicated that older adults may prefer certain elements on a trail, namely those elements that afforded their choice of activity. Although there will always be limitations to understanding behavioral responses to the built environment, this should not disqualify the benefits of greenways on older adults’ physical activity.

Dorwart is an assistant professor with the Department of Physical Education and Recreation, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC.

Address author correspondence to Catherine E. Dorwart at cdorwart@nccu.edu.
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