BACKGROUND: Previous research has shown that the built environment plays a role in habitual levels of physical activity (PA), however much of this research has been conducted in adults and higher income countries. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the strength of association between the built environment and PA in South African older adults. METHODS: Participants were recruited (n=44, mean age 65+/-8.5years) from two suburbs, representing either a high socioeconomic (HSA) or low socioeconomic area (LSA). Self-reported PA, and subjective assessments of neighborhood walkability (Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale, NEWS) was measured. Participants wore Actigraph GT3x accelerometers to objectively quantify PA. RESULTS: HSA participants reported significantly more leisure-time and less transport PA. Objectively measured and self-reported MVPA was significantly higher in HSA participants. NEWS 'Land-use Mix' was negatively associated with leisure-time MVPA, (r2=0.20; p<0.02). In addition, neighborhood aesthetics was positively associated with leisure-time physical activity (r2=0.33; p=0.02). 'Safety from traffic' was inversely associated with travel-related PA (r2=0.14, p=0.01). None of the other NEWS scores were associated with PA for the total group. CONCLUSION: Leisure-time and transport-related PA was influenced by socio-economic status. Attributes of the perceived built environment associated with leisure-time and total MVPA in older South Africa adults were different in low- and high- income settings
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