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Perceived Barriers to Walking in the Neighborhood Environment: A Survey of Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Jill Dawson, Melvyn Hillsdon, Irene Boller, and Charlie Foster

The authors investigated whether low levels of walking among older adults in the UK were associated with demographic and health characteristics, as well as perceived environmental attributes. Survey data were obtained from self-administered standard questionnaires given to 680 people age 50+ (mean age 64.4 yr) attending nationally led walking schemes. Items concerned with demographic characteristics and perceived barriers to neighborhood walking were analyzed using multiple logistic regression. Citing more than 1 environmental barrier to walking, versus not, was associated with significantly reduced levels of (leisure) walking (MET/hr) in the preceding week (Z = –2.35, p = .019), but physical activity levels overall did not differ significantly (Z = –0.71, p = .48). Citing a health-related barrier to walking significantly adversely affected overall physical activity levels (Z = –2.72, p = .006). The authors concluded that, among older people who favor walking, health problems might more seriously affect overall physical activity levels than perceived environmental barriers.