Our population is aging, and life expectancies are increasing globally. One strategy to promote healthy aging is by creating environments that support physical activity. Using a natural experiment study design, this dissertation takes a mixed-methods approach to capture the impacts of a built environment intervention aimed to increase active transportation among community-dwelling older adults. We captured location-specific travel and physical activity using accelerometers and GPS monitors one year before and after the Comox-Helmcken Greenway was developed, and measured change in weekly transportation-related activity, specific activity along the Greenway, and activity along a comparison corridor. Secondly, we interviewed a subset of these older adults to capture their perceptions of the Greenway. We found no change in weekly physical activity levels, but a decrease in the number of trips along the Greenway. Our interview data suggests this may result from confusion of messaging, the steep slope, and a lack of destinations.
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Thesis advisor: Winters, Meghan
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