Background: Supporting older adults to engage in physically active lifestyles requires supporting environments. Walkable environments may increase walking activity in older adults, but evidence for this subgroup is scarce, and longitudinal studies are lacking. This study therefore examined whether changes in neighbourhood walkability were associated with changes in walking activity in older adults, and whether this association differed by individual-level characteristics and by contextual conditions beyond the built environment.
Methods: Data from 668 participants (57.8 – 93.4 years at baseline) across three waves (2005/06, 2008/09 and 2011/12) of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) were used. Composite exposure measures of neighbourhood walkability (range: 0 (low) – 100 (high)) within 500-m Euclidean buffer zones around each participant’s residential address were constructed by combining objectively measured high-resolution Geographic Information System data.
Results: Changes in neighbourhood walkability were not statistically significantly associated with changes in walking activity in older adults.
Conclusions: This study did not show evidence for an association between changes in neighbourhood walkability and changes in walking activity in older adults. If neighbourhood walkability and walking activity are causally linked, then changes in neighbourhood walkability between 2005/06 and 2011/12 might have been not substantial enough to produce meaningful changes in walking activity in older adults.