Urban planning encouraging detours could be beneficial for older people
George Winter provides an overview of recently published articles that are of interest to practice nurses. Should you wish to look at any of the papers in more detail, a full reference is provided
Promoting and maintaining daily mobility among the elderly is central to healthy aging. Assessing how the environment influences older adults’ health has moved from a residence-centred approach to the activity space concept, which acknowledges the importance of individuals’ daily mobility.
Little research has been undertaken on the environmental correlates of selective daily mobility, which means detours from the shortest path. Therefore, Klein et al (2022) evaluated the selective mobility of 470 older adults (aged 67 to 94 years) living in Luxembourg, by measuring detour percentage between their observed paths and their shortest routes, whether walking or driving. Participants carried an integrated Global Positioning System and accelerometer tracker for 7 days.
The authors found that walkers sought walking-friendly environments with more low-speed areas and better connectivity. On the other hand, car users sought car-friendly environments by favouring high-speed areas rather than taking shortest routes. Further, ‘low-speed areas seem to foster greater detours among walkers and reduced detours among drivers’ and the authors suggest that integrating the environmental correlates of walking detours into broader urban planning strategies to promote walking could promote walking among older adults and increase walking time by providing supportive environments for walking detours: ‘The increase in walking time through walking detours may also help people to spend more time in the corresponding neighbourhood environment…’
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