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Neighborhood Green Land Cover and Neighborhood-Based Walking in U.S. Older Adults

      Introduction

      Greenspace exposure has been associated with physical activity, but few studies have investigated its association with physical activity in the residential neighborhood. This study investigates whether greater amounts of neighborhood open space and forest are associated with neighborhood-based walking in older adults.

      Methods

      In 2020, cross-sectional analyses were conducted on those aged ≥65 years from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey. Minutes of neighborhood walking per day were derived from travel diaries. Green land cover measures from the 2011 National Land Cover Dataset were linked to respondent data by the U.S. census tract. Adjusted linear regression models, using weights accounting for survey sampling, tested the associations between the percentage of green land cover in the neighborhood (open space, forest) and minutes of neighborhood walking per day. Adjusted models were stratified to examine whether the associations varied by an individual- and neighborhood-level SES, sex, and race/ethnicity.

      Results

      Respondents (N=72,753) were aged 74 (SD=7) years on average. Greater percentage of open space was associated with more neighborhood walking in African Americans (estimate=0.069, 95% CI=0.005, 0.133). Greater percentage of forest was associated with more neighborhood walking in the overall sample (estimate=0.028, 95% CI=0.006, 0.050), women (estimate=0.025, 95% CI=0.005, 0.045), and Whites (estimate=0.034, 95% CI=0.004, 0.064).

      Conclusions

      Type of neighborhood green land cover (open space versus forest) may be differentially associated with neighborhood walking depending on race/ethnicity. This study suggests a possible association between greater neighborhood open space and greater walking among African Americans that must be confirmed in future studies.
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