Professor Ester Cerin identifies environmental attributes that get people active
Published: Monday 27th March 2017
Professor Ester Cerin’s review on built environment and active travel research has gained global traction with over 1200 downloads since its publication in February.
The systematic review on research into the built environment and active travel in older adults has been published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Led by Professor Ester Cerin, of the Institute for Health & Ageing, the review and metanalysis shows how neighbourhood built environments can affect the active travel habits of older adults, with the results supporting strong links between the physical attributes of neighbourhood environments and the level of active travel that older people achieved through walking and/or cycling.
Professor Cerin and her team discovered that across forty two quantitative studies of adults around the world aged 65 years and over, physical attributes such as street lights and seating facilities positively contributed to rates of active travel, while litter, vandalism and other decay had a negative impact on rates of walking.
It was also found that easy access to food outlets, businesses and institutional destinations were also positively correlated with active transport in older people.
The complete aspects of neighbourhoods that were considered in this study included residential density/urbanisation, walkability, street connectivity, access to services/destinations, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, aesthetics and cleanliness, and safety and traffic.
In order to promote and support older adults’ active travel, especially walking, Professor Cerin’s research highlights the importance of providing easy, within-walking-distance access to shops, public transport, recreational facilities and various commercial and institutional services to older residents. Such access needs to be through a network of well-maintained and safe footpaths with sufficient places to rest.
Any enhancements may also require efforts to raise awareness of these changes, potentially as part of council and community outreach programs.
While research on the neighbourhood physical environmental correlates of older adults’ active travel has flourished in the last five years, Professor Cerin believes more studies across the globe are needed to establish the optimal environmental profiles of neighbourhoods to support walking and cycling for transport in older adults.
To read Professor Ester Cerin’s study, The neighbourhood physical environment and active travel in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis, please click here.