Author: Sarte, Ann Frances Isobel
This case study explores environmental influences on the physical activity of older adults (age 60 and over) in two neighbourhoods. The concept of social capital – the resources available through one’s social networks – is used to explore social factors that affect physical activity in later life. A conceptual framework was developed to map relationships among key study concepts. Research methods included neighbourhood environmental audits, focus groups, and activity diaries. Findings confirmed neighbourhood differences in physical features hypothesized to impact physical activity. Neighbourhood physical and social factors identified as supports and barriers by participants themselves also differed. Moreover, one neighbourhood was found to be more supportive of walking for transport while the other was more supportive of recreational forms of physical activity. Individual participants differed in access to social capital from neighbourhood and personal networks. Relevant planning issues are discussed as they relate to physical activity promotion in later life.
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