Introduction The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between perceived environment and leisure-time physical activity level in a population sample of elderly in a southern capital of Brazil.
Methods Cross-sectional study included 1656 elderly (60 years and older) living in the urban area of Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil in 2009–2010. The leisure-time physical activity was measured using the long International Physical Activity Questionnaire. The 150 min time limit of physical activity per week was used to classify individuals who were active during leisure time. Environmental variables were assessed using a modified version of the Neighbourhood Environment Walkability Scale. Poisson' regression analysis was used to examine the association of environment variables with leisure-time physical activity with calculated prevalence ratios and CIs of 95% and p values (Wald test) (STATA 9). The analysis took into consideration the clustering of each sample.
Results The prevalence of leisure-time physical activity was 29.7% (95% CI 26.0 to 33.3), 35.6% (95% CI 29.7 to 41.6) among men and 26.3% (95% CI 23.1 to 29.4) in women. The existence of sidewalks, bikeways, pedestrian paths, social support from friends/neighbours to motivate physical activities and climate were parameters independently associated with leisure time physical activity.
Conclusion The results suggest that the construction of a safe and enjoyable public environment inside populated urban areas stimulates physical activity practices and thus should be considered. Social network can develop and encourage leisure-time physical activities in the society nearby which is especially important for elderly population.
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