Effect of the Physical Environment on the Walking Behavior of Elderly People Living in High-density Large-scale Building Complex: A Case of Hong Kong Public Housing

Project: Research

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Hong Kong and many other developed societies are facing the challenges of agingpopulations, with one being an increased demand for healthcare services andexpenditures. There is compelling evidence that physical activity can improve the healthof older adults. In turn, physical activity can lower annual direct medical costs byUS$695 per person (2014 price). However, roughly two-thirds of old adults in HongKong fail to achieve the recommended 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity.The physical environment is believed to be an important factor that can hinder orfacilitate daily physical activity, such as walking or jogging. Numerous studies havefound that residents walk more in neighborhoods with certain environmentalcharacteristics, such as high density and high street connectivity. However, mostprevious studies have been cross-sectional studies, which are limited in establishingcausality between the environment and physical activity.Many Hong Kong residents live in high-density large-scale residential properties thathave large open spaces built for physical activity within the property site. Making use ofthose property sites to promote physical activity of older adults seems to be a reasonableapproach, because older adults spend an average of 19 hours per day around home.However, little is known about the effect of site environment on physical activity.This study will address those gaps in the literature by comparing the differences inphysical activity of residents who have been randomly assigned to different publicresidential estates. The study will include 840 older adults in 24 public housing estates.Guided by the social ecological model, comprehensive data collection methods will beused to measure (1) the neighborhood and site-level environmental characteristics; (2)individual demographic and health data; and (3) individual walking and other physicalactivity data. Multilevel linear regression model will be used to investigate association ofneighborhood and site-level characteristics with walking and other physical activities,after adjustment for individual-level characteristics.This study is significant for several reasons. Theoretically, the natural experiment designwill address the limitations of prior cross-sectional studies. The study will also identifysite-level physical environmental factors that support walking among older adults.Practically, the results of this study will help designers and developers of largeresidential building complex create activity-friendly residential sites. This work will alsopromote the physical activity and quality of life of older adults and thereby reduce thehealthcare costs imposed on society.


Project number9042304
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1611/06/19

    Research areas

  • physical design,walking,environment-behavior study,residential building ,