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  • Author: Freja Gheysen x
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Freja Gheysen, Karel Herman and Delfien Van Dyck

Objective: To investigate whether the relationship of neighborhood environmental factors with physical activity (PA) is moderated by cognitive functioning in Belgian older adults. Methods: Seventy-one older adults completed validated questionnaires on PA and environmental perceptions, wore an accelerometer, and completed a computerized assessment of cognitive functioning. Moderated linear regression analyses were conducted in SPSS 24.0. Results: Overall cognitive functioning significantly moderated the associations of traffic safety and street connectivity with PA. Detailed analyses showed that these factors were only positively associated with PA in older adults with lower cognitive functioning. In addition, particularly, performance on tests assessing visuospatial and episodic memory moderated these associations. Discussion: Living in traffic-safe neighborhoods with short and many alternative routes might motivate older adults with lower cognitive functioning to be active. As such, the increase in PA might improve their cognitive abilities. This knowledge is crucial for health practitioners to develop effective PA promotion initiatives.

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Susana Carrapatoso, Greet Cardon, Delfien Van Dyck, Joana Carvalho and Freja Gheysen

This study examined the mediating effect of walking on the relationship of social support with vitality and psychological distress. Data from a sample of 2,859 older adults were used. The older adults completed the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey vitality scale, the Global Health Questionnaire, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and a social support attributes questionnaire. All social support variables were positively associated with vitality and negatively associated with psychological distress. Walking mediated the associations of appreciation for (3%) and frequency of (8%) social contacts, participation in group activities (19%), closeness from family and friends (8%), and concern from people around (6%) with vitality. Walking also mediated 33% of the association between participation in group activities and psychological distress. The main findings of this study suggest that participation in group activities, as part of social support, in later life is beneficial to improve older adults’ vitality and reduces psychological distress, with walking being a strong mediator of these relationships.