We examine the relative importance of both objective and perceived environmental features for physical activity in older English adults. Self-reported physical activity levels of 8,281 older adults were used to compute volumes of outdoor recreational and commuting activity. Perceptions of neighborhood environment supportiveness were drawn from a questionnaire survey and a geographical information system was used to derive objective measures. Negative binominal regression models were fitted to examine associations. Perceptions of neighborhood environment were more associated with outdoor recreational activity (over 10% change per standard deviation) than objective measures (5–8% change). Commuting activity was associated with several objective measures (up to 16% change). We identified different environmental determinants of recreational and commuting activity in older adults. Perceptions of environmental supportiveness for recreational activity appear more important than actual neighborhood characteristics. Understanding how older people perceive neighborhoods might be key to encouraging outdoor recreational activity.
Wu is with Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; and the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. N.R. Jones is with the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. Van Sluijs, Griffin, and Wareham are with the UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, UK. A.P Jones is with Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; and the UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, Cambridge, UK.