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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Built Environment Affects Walking among Older Adults in Brazil

Sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, and perceived safety were among the factors associated with increased walking by older adults in Brazil, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

[Photo:  Dr. Ross C. Brownson]

Aging and increased urbanization are presenting health challenges in Latin American cities. Previous studies have shown the relationship between built environment and healthy behavior, but most of the studies have been in high-income nations.

Researchers interviewed 1,705 adults aged 60 and over in Florianopolis, a city in southern Brazil where half the population lives with a family income of less than the U.S. equivalent of $200 per month.

They found that sidewalks, street lighting, recreational facilities and dog ownership were significant predictors of walking for transportation. Safety and social support were associated with walking for leisure.

“Many of these features are modifiable, and therefore, investments in the environment can lead to increased physical activity,” wrote co-author Dr. Ross C. Brownson, Bernard Becker Professor at the Brown School. The first author is Dr. Marui W. Corseuil Giehl, a post-doctoral scholar at Federal University of Santa Catarina.

The paper was published in January in the Journal of Aging and Health.

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