Research Study Abstract

How does retirement community environment affect changes in step counts over time?

  • Presented on May 21, 2014

Purpose: To explore whether changes in objectively assessed physical activity (PA) are related to campus environmental factors among individuals living in retirement communities (RCs).

Methods: Older adults (mean age = 83, SD = 6; 72.3% female) were recruited from 11 RCs. RCs were randomized to either an attention control condition, or a multi-level walking intervention. Step counts were measured at baseline and 3 months by the Actigraph accelerometer. RC PA environment was measured using “The Audit of Physical Activity Resources for Seniors” (APARS), providing nine scales to assess both inside and outside positive PA features. Separate linear mixed model analyses were performed to measure associations between each APARS scale and change in daily step counts, after adjusting for demographics and treatment condition. The interactions between APARS scores and treatment condition were also examined.

Results: 247 participants had a mean daily step count change of 507.76 ± 2864.37. The three environmental features most predictive of an increase in step counts were: Accessibility of the main communal building (p = .013), inside exercise facilities (p = .029), and outside aesthetics (p = .069). APARS scale*condition interactions approached significance in these models (p-values ranging from .075 to .125). Intervention condition predicted an increased step count in all models (p-values from < .001 to .08).

Conclusions: PA environment in RCs significantly predicts an increase in daily step counts in an elderly population. Additionally, a multilevel PA intervention succeeded in increasing step counts, independent of PA environment.

Presented at

ISBNPA 2014 Annual Conference