Journal of Community Health

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 12–22

Neighborhood Walking Among Overweight and Obese Adults: Age Variations in Barriers and Motivators

  • Chanam Lee
  • Marcia G. Ory
  • Jeongjae Yoon
  • Samuel N. Forjuoh
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10900-012-9592-6

Cite this article as:
Lee, C., Ory, M.G., Yoon, J. et al. J Community Health (2013) 38: 12. doi:10.1007/s10900-012-9592-6


Walking is a popular form of physical activity that can bring many public health benefits. It can be even more beneficial to those who are currently obese or overweight. However, many barriers discourage people from walking, ranging from lack of motivation to unsafe neighborhood environments, and such barriers vary with age. This study addresses barriers and motivators to walking among overweight and obese adults, and examines their age variations. Particular emphasis was given to modifiable environmental factors as the priority intervention targets. A survey of 161 overweight and obese adults recruited from a large integrated healthcare system in central Texas provided data on walking, demographics, motivators and barriers. Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis were conducted. The respondents had a mean age of 48.4 (20–86), and were predominantly female (80.8 %), non-Hispanic White (86.0 %), and obese (mean BMI = 32.5). Popular environmental barriers to walking were: bad weather, inadequate lighting, no shade, unattended dogs, disconnected sidewalks, poor walking surfaces, no interesting places to walk nearby, and no benches (74.5–38.5 %). Even and smooth walking surfaces and benches were more frequently reported by older adults as motivators. Proximity to recreational facilities was a stronger motivator for younger adults. Two safety related barriers, fear of injury (older adults) and traffic safety concerns (younger adults), also showed significant age differences. Overweight and obese adults experience substantial environmental barriers to walking, but many of them are modifiable. Observed age variations suggest that future interventions may be more effective if tailored to address age-specific barriers.


Walking Environment Older adults Obesity 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chanam Lee
    • 1
  • Marcia G. Ory
    • 3
  • Jeongjae Yoon
    • 2
  • Samuel N. Forjuoh
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, College of ArchitectureTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, College of ArchitectureTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Promotion and Community Health Science, School of Rural Public HealthTexas A&M Health Science CenterCollege StationUSA
  4. 4.Department of Family and Community Medicine, Scott & White Healthcare, College of MedicineTexas A&M Health Science CenterTempleUSA

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