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Yvonne Michael, Tracey Beard, Dongseok Choi, Stephanie Farquhar and Nichole Carlson

There is a need for greater understanding of how perceptions and objective measures of the physical environment influence physical activity among seniors. The goal of this study was to examine the degree of association between perceived and objective characteristics of the neighborhood environment and the relation of each type of measurement to neighborhood walking in older adults. Data on self-reported frequency of walking in the neighborhood and perceived measures of neighborhood environment from 105 older adults were linked to objective measures assessed by geographic information systems and an audit instrument. Perceived and objective measurements of the built environment exhibited a low degree of agreement (kappas: <.20). After adjustment for education, age, and gender, presence of a mall was positively associated with neighborhood walking in both the objective and perceived models.

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K. John Fisher, Fuzhong Li, Yvonne Michael and Minot Cleveland

There is a need for greater understanding of setting-specific influences on physical activity to complement the predominant research paradigm of individual-centered influences on physical activity. In this study, the authors used a cross-sectional multilevel analysis to examine a range of neighborhood-level characteristics and the extent to which they were associated with variation in self-reported physical activity among older adults. The sample consisted of 582 community-dwelling residents age 65 years and older (M = 73.99 years, SD = 6.25) recruited from 56 neighborhoods in Portland, OR. Information collected from participants and neighborhood data from objective sources formed a two-level data structure. These hierarchical data (i.e., individuals nested within neighborhoods) were subjected to multilevel structural-equation-modeling analyses. Results showed that neighborhood social cohesion, in conjunction with other neighborhood-level factors, was significantly associated with increased levels of neighborhood physical activity. Overall, neighborhood-level variables jointly accounted for a substantial variation in neighborhood physical activity when controlling for individual-level variables.