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Investigating the perceptions of the socio-spatial context of walkability among immigrant older adults: A literature review and a pilot study on Iranian and Canadian older adults in Metro Vancouver

Resource type
Thesis type
(Project) M.A.
Date created
Walking is recognized as the simplest form of mobility and the most popular type of physical activity (PA) among older adults that has the potential to improve their physical and mental health and provide opportunities for social interaction. Neighbourhood walkability has been therefore a topic of interest among environmental gerontologists for a long time. While the perception of neighbourhood walkability and the lived experience of walking is well documented based on the perspective of native-born older adults, less is known about the experiences of Immigrant older adults (IOAs) who often self-report poorer health status, lower level of walking, PA, and more loneliness compared to their native-born counterparts. The number of IOAs are rapidly growing yet there are few studies exploring their experiences of walking and involvement in outdoor activities. The existing studies are vague, unstructured, and fragmented across different disciplines. To address this gap, two objectives are completed in this capstone project. The first is a scoping review, which identifies recent empirical literature focused on IOAs' experiences of walking. The identified themes in this scoping review include 1) health status, 2) cultural background, 3) affordability, 4) accessibility and inclusion. These themes along with the two natural elements of time and weather shape IOAs' walking experiences. To compare the perception of neighbourhood walkability and lived experiences of walking among native-born and immigrant older adults, a pilot project is proposed based on the SSHRC's Insight Development Grant's application guideline. IOAs make up about 30% of all Canadians aged 65 or older. This project is proposed to explore and compare the perception of neighbourhood walkability and lived experiences walking among native-born White Canadian and Iranian older adults, a minority but rapidly growing group of older adults in Metro Vancouver. Employing a community engagement lens and a mixed-method approach, this project will be done in two sequential phases. In phase one, qualitative data will be collected through semi-structured interviews and walking tours to understand each group's experiences. The second phase involves collecting quantitative data with a survey from a larger population on walking patterns and satisfaction with neighbourhood walkability.
119 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Mahmood, Atiya
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