Social-ecological correlates of older adults’ outdoor activity patterns

Zhengying Liu (Corresponding author), Astrid D.A.M. Kemperman, Harry J.P. Timmermans

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An understanding of outdoor activity patterns of older adults may help in the development of more tailored physical activity programs for enhancing higher physical activity levels and more effective environmental interventions. This study aimed to identify patterns of outdoor activity of older adults, and to examine their relationships with physical activity levels and correlates of these patterns.

Based on data collected among 363 respondents aged 60 or older in Dalian, China, a two-step cluster analysis approach was adopted to identify outdoor activity patterns; one-way analysis of variance and chi-square tests were performed to examine differences in physical activity levels across activity patterns; and a multinomial logistic regression model was estimated to examine the socio-ecological correlates of each activity pattern.

The study identified five distinct activity patterns, namely: 1) utilitarian activity pattern; 2) low frequency/short duration leisure-time physical activity pattern; 3) sedentary activity pattern; 4) long duration leisure-time physical activity pattern; and 5) high frequency leisure-time physical activity pattern. The type of activity pattern was associated with older adults' physical activity levels. Older adults’ patterns of outdoor activity participation were associated with their age, gender, education level, physical ability and household type. In addition, neighborhood characteristics such as accessibility to local shops, safety from crime, social capital and social cohesion were also significantly associated with outdoor activity patterns.

The findings can help health professionals to develop tailored physical activity programs for older adults with certain socio-demographic characteristics and urban planners to design suitable environmental interventions supporting the habitual activity pattern of specific subgroups of older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100840
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Transport & Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


This work was supported by the China Scholarship Council (grant number 201609370025 ).

FundersFunder number
China Scholarship Council201609370025


    • Cluster analysis
    • Older adults
    • Outdoor activity patterns
    • Physical activity


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