Physical Environmental Influences on the Physical Activity Behavior of Independent Older Adults Living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities

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Title: Physical Environmental Influences on the Physical Activity Behavior of Independent Older Adults Living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Author: Humphrey, Arleen
Advisors: Robin Moore, Committee Chair
Lucille Bearon, Committee Member
James Tomlinson, Committee Member
Charles Korte, Committee Member
Abstract: This exploratory, cross-sectional, multi-case study used a multi-method approach to examine how perceptions of features and characteristics of outdoor and indoor physical activity (PA) settings and access to these settings influence PA participation among independent older adults living in two continuing care retirement communities. Study objectives included: 1) to determine whether residents of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) engage in walking as their primary form of PA, 2) to investigate two different types of PA settings for walking (indoor and outdoor) and the PA behavior of independent older adults and 3) to understand how environmental characteristics and personal factors either motivate or impede physical activity participation. Physical environmental characteristics and psycho-social variables (access, safety and self-efficacy) were examined for their influence on total walking and total PA outcomes using descriptive statistics and correlational analysis. Perceptions of physical environmental characteristics, access, safety and self-efficacy were obtained from a purposive sample of 127 independent older adults with a mean age of 82.6 years living in two CCRCs. Overall findings indicate that physical characteristics are significantly associated with walking for PA, i.e. access to a choice of different walking routes. Weather was the greatest barrier to PA. Top motivators for PA were to maintain health and keep joints mobile. Psycho-social variables appear to play an important role in physical activity participation, i.e., self-efficacy was correlated with mobility, total PA and with total walking. Self-efficacy for physical activity (confidence in one's ability to be physically active) was shown to be associated with perceptions of physical environmental features related to access, i.e. exercise equipment meets my needs, places to sit and rest and lots of routes I can take. Self-efficacy was also associated with features related to safety, i.e. curbs are easy to travel over and walking paths are easy to use. Types of physical activities most highly correlated with total PA score were walk to do errands, stretching or flexibility and light gardening.
Date: 2006-07-26
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Design
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/3297


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