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Afroditi Stathi, Holly Gilbert, Kenneth R. Fox, Jo Coulson, Mark Davis and Janice L. Thompson

Background:

This mixed-methods study investigated personal, interpersonal, and environmental factors salient to decisions about being active in neighborhoods of different levels of deprivation.

Methods:

Twenty-five participants age 70 years and older (10 women) with diverse physical activity levels provided data on their weekly activity patterns (using accelerometry) and their perceived barriers to exercise (questionnaire). They also participated in semistructured individual interviews exploring the barriers and facilitators influencing neighborhood activity.

Results:

Functional limitations, lack of intrinsic motivation, and not having an activity companion were the highest impact barriers. Walkable access to amenities, positive physical activity perceptions, and existing habit of being active were the highest impact facilitators.

Conclusions:

The perceived quality and accessibility of the built and natural environments influence neighborhood activity in older adults. However, this relationship might be altered through the influence of personal and interpersonal determinants such as maintenance of good health and functional ability and supportive social networks.