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Associations between time spent in green areas and physical activity among late middle-aged adults

Bart Dewulf, Tijs Neutens, Delfien Van Dyck, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Steven Broekx, Carolien Beckx, Nico Van de Weghe
  • Bart Dewulf
    Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent; Research Foundation Flanders, Brussels; Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Mol, Belgium | bartd.dewulf@ugent.be
  • Tijs Neutens
    Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent; Research Foundation Flanders, Brussels, Belgium
  • Delfien Van Dyck
    Research Foundation Flanders, Brussels; Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  • Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij
    Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  • Steven Broekx
    Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Mol, Belgium
  • Carolien Beckx
    Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Mol, Belgium
  • Nico Van de Weghe
    Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Abstract

Physical activity is an important facilitator for health and wellbeing, especially for late middle-aged adults, who are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. Physical activity performed in green areas is supposed to be particularly beneficial, so we studied whether late middle- aged adults are more active in green areas than in non-green areas and how this is influenced by individual characteristics and the level of neighbourhood greenness. We tracked 180 late middle-aged (58 to 65 years) adults using global positioning system and accelerometer data to know whether and where they were sedentary or active. These data were combined with information on land use to obtain information on the greenness of sedentary and active hotspots. We found that late middle-aged adults are more physically active when spending more time in green areas than in non-green areas. Spending more time at home and in non-green areas was found to be associated with more sedentary behaviour. Time spent in non-green areas was found to be related to more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for males and to less MVPA for females. The positive association between time spent in green areas and MVPA was the strongest for highly educated people and for those living in a green neighbourhood. This study shows that the combined use of global positioning system and accelerometer data facilitates understanding of where people are sedentary or physically active, which can help policy makers encourage activity in this age cohort.

Keywords

Late middle-aged adults; GPS; Accelerometer; Physical activity; Greenness

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Submitted: 2015-09-18 15:41:37
Published: 2016-11-16 10:15:45
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Copyright (c) 2016 Bart Dewulf, Tijs Neutens, Delfien Van Dyck, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Steven Broekx, Carolien Beckx, Nico Van de Weghe

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