Relationships between the perceived neighborhood social environment and walking for transportation among older adults

Jelle Van Cauwenberg, Liesbeth De Donder, Peter Clarys, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Benedicte Deforche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Ecological models state that physical activity (PA) behaviors can be explained by the interplay between individuals and their surrounding physical and social environment. However, the majority of research on PA-environment relationships has focused upon the physical environment. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship between the perceived social environment and older adults' walking for transportation, while adjusting for individual and perceived physical environmental factors. Questionnaires were used to collect data on walking for transportation, individual, perceived physical and social environmental factors in 50,986 Flemish older adults (? 65 years) in the period of 2004-2010. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were applied to examine the relationships between perceived social environmental factors and the odds of daily walking for transportation. The final models showed significant positive relationships for frequency of contacts with neighbors, neighbors' social support, too many immigrants residing in the neighborhood, neighborhood involvement, participation and volunteering. These results emphasize the need for including social environmental factors in future studies examining correlates of older adults' physical activity. Current findings suggest that projects stimulating interpersonal relationships, place attachment, and formal participation might promote walking for transportation among older adults. Future research should try to further disentangle the complex (inter)relationships and causal mechanisms between older individuals, their environments, and their walking for transportation behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • ecological model
  • social environment
  • walking
  • physical activity
  • older adults


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