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Jacqueline Kerr, Greg Norman, Rachel Millstein, Marc A. Adams, Cindy Morgan, Robert D. Langer, and Matthew Allison


Few studies of older adults have compared environmental correlates of walking and physical activity in women who may be more influenced by the environment. Environmental measures at different spatial levels have seldom been compared. Findings from previous studies are generally inconsistent.


This study investigated the relationship between the built environment and physical activity in older women from the Women’s Health Initiative cohort in San Diego County (N = 5401). Built environment measures were created for 3 buffers around participants’ residential address. Linear regression analyses investigated the relationship between the built environment features and self-reported physical activity and walking.


Total walking was significantly positively associated with the walkability index (β = .050: half-mile buffer), recreation facility density (β = .036: 1-mile buffer), and distance to the coast (β = –.064; P-values < .05). Total physical activity was significantly negatively associated with distance to the coast and positively with recreation facility density (β = .036: 1-mile buffer; P < .05).


Although effect sizes were small, we did find important relationships between walkability and walking in older adults, which supports recommendations for community design features to include age friendly elements. More intense physical activity may occur in recreational settings than neighborhood streets.

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Chantal A. Vella, Erin D. Michos, Dorothy D. Sears, Mary Cushman, Rachel B. Van Hollebeke, Michelle M. Wiest, and Matthew A. Allison

Background: Sedentary behaviors (SB) may exacerbate loss of muscle mass and function, independent of physical activity levels. This study examined the associations of SB with abdominal muscle area and density, a marker of muscle quality, in adults. Methods: A total of 1895 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis completed detailed health history, physical activity and SB questionnaires, computed tomography to quantify body composition, and measurements of inflammatory markers. Analyses included linear and nonlinear regression. Results: The mean age and body mass index were 64.6 years and 28 kg·m−2, respectively, and 50% were women. On average, participants engaged in 28 metabolic equivalent hours·week−1 of SB. With adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, physical activity, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and inflammation, multivariable regression modeling revealed a nonlinear (quadratic) relationship between SB and locomotor, stability, and total abdominal muscle density (P < .01) but not muscle area. The SB inflection point at which locomotor, stability, and total abdominal muscle density began to decrease was 38.2, 39.6, and 39.2 metabolic equivalent hours·week−1 of SB, respectively. Conclusions: SB is associated with reduced muscle density when practiced as little as 5.5 metabolic equivalent hours·day−1. These findings may have important implications for SB guidelines for targeting skeletal muscle health in older adults.