The current study extends the literature linking neighborhood attributes to physical activity by examining both perceived and measured environmental characteristics in association with measured physical activity behavior specific to older adults at the neighborhood (macro) and resident level (micro). This study, by design, specifically recruited from a priori identified neighborhoods that elicited environmental attributes deemed to be either more- or lesswalkable. Physical activity levels were then compared at the macro neighborhood level, and then also at the individual resident micro level examining in depth measured neighborhood characteristics at the 200 m buffer radii level, and also those self-perceived by the individual. The principal findings from this study showed those residing in high-walkable neighborhoods were more physically active than those residing in low-walkable neighborhoods. Collectively, at the individual resident level measured environmental attributes jointly accounted for 38% of total activity, 35% of time spent in light intensity activity, and 54% of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity, after accounting for age, gender, body mass index, years lived in residence, and driver's license/car ownership. In general these results were stronger than those observed from self- perceived environmental attributes, jointly accounting for 20%, 23% and 32% of total, time spent in light, and time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity, respectively. Proximity to non-residential destinations was a common association with physical activity at the individual resident level, regardless of whether this was measured objectively, or self-perceived by the individual. Other individual resident level measured and perceived environmental attributes yielded a lack of concordance with objectively measured physical activity levels.
Older adults who lived in neighborhoods that were characterized as being high-walkable on average engaged in approximately 45 min more of light intensity physical activity per day, and approximately 11 min more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Older adults who had, and who perceived to have, destinations such as retail, services and entertainment close by were likely to be more physically activity. Such findings are consistent with other studies. Michael and colleagues in their study of 105 older adults drawn from 10 neighborhoods as part of the larger SHAPE trial  revealed that the presence of walking destinations was related to higher self-reported walking behavior . King et al. in a group of 158 older women reported amenities within walking distance to individual residences to be associated with pedometer determined walking behavior . Nagel and coauthors further extended these relations and found that there are stronger relationships for linkages between physical activity and commercial establishments for those who already report some degree of walking behavior . Collectively, past studies, and current results demonstrate that proximity to non-residential destinations is important for older adult physical activity behavior.
The current study also found that measured street safety scores, which encompasses the number of traffic lanes, street design to reduce speed and other traffic calming devices, along with an overall connectivity measure was associated with total volume of physical activity (beta = 26.8, p = -.006). We did not find self-perceived street connectivity and pedestrian safety to be associated with physical activity. Current literature findings are generally unequivocal in this area, with Li and colleagues noting walking levels to be higher in areas with greater street connectivity , and Michael and co-workers finding an overall lack of association with street level characteristics . Often, features of street connectivity are consonant with other aspects of land-use mix, and proximity to nonresidential destinations. It may be that in collection, street level characteristics are reduced in importance, or become overcome by other attributes in their predicative relationship to, or associations with, physical activity in older adults. A lack of concordance between perceived and measured attributes is likely indicative that other interesting interactions are present that warrant further investigation in an attempt to fully discern contributions to physical activity behavior.
The social environment is important and is likely to influence physical activity in older adults.. Current results support measured social environmental attributes pertinent to neighborhood crime or crime watch signage being associated with total volume of physical activity (beta = 4784.5, p = -.031). Other studies have indicated that factors such as social cohesion  are important in explaining senior activity levels, and our own work has highlighted a likelihood to be more active if others are also physically active, by way of providing social support and an increased sense of safety . Parallel to the aforementioned ideals, was the current study findings that overall perceived neighborhood satisfaction was related to both total activity (beta = 48166.11, p = -.028) and time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity (beta = 5.79, p = -.003). This self-perception in concurrence with other land-use findings supports the notion that the environment is an important facilitator to older adult physical activity behavior. These findings, in combination with other literature findings pertinent to older adults are consistent with studies from the general adult population that highlight the linkage between built and social neighborhood attributes and physical activity engagement .
The current study is not without limitation. By design, causality cannot be inferred. Although utilizing objective measurement of physical activity behavior, hereby reducing the limitations of self-report activity, is a strength to study design, domain specific physical activity cannot be evaluated. By definition, the built and social environment is more likely to impact transport and utilitarian physical activity. Such domain specific features of physical activity are likely to be consumed by a total activity metric, and results linking environment to physical activity potentially weakened as a result. Future studies investigating the measured and perceived environmental attributes of domain specific physical activity would enhance this understanding. By employing technologies such as global positioning systems, investigative teams would be well served to show overall location and domain specificity in conjunction with objective physical activity outcomes.