Neighborhood Disorder and Physical Activity among Older Adults: A Longitudinal Study


Neighborhood physical disorder—the visual indications of neighborhood deterioration—may inhibit outdoor physical activity, particularly among older adults. However, few previous studies of the association between neighborhood disorder and physical activity have focused on this sensitive population group, and most have been cross-sectional. We examined the relationship between neighborhood physical disorder and physical activity, measured using the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE), in a three-wave longitudinal study of 3497 New York City residents aged 65–75 at baseline weighted to be representative of the older adult population of New York City. We used longitudinal mixed linear regression controlling for a number of individual and neighborhood factors to estimate the association of disorder with PASE score at baseline and change in PASE score over 2 years. There were too few subjects to assess the effect of changes in disorder on activity levels. In multivariable mixed regression models accounting for individual and neighborhood factors; for missing data and for loss to follow-up, each standard deviation increase in neighborhood disorder was associated with an estimated 2.0 units (95% CI 0.3, 3.6) lower PASE score at baseline, or the equivalent of about 6 min of walking per day. However, physical disorder was not related to changes in PASE score over 2 years of follow-up. In this ethnically and socioeconomically diverse population of urban older adults, residents of more disordered neighborhoods were on average less active at baseline. Physical disorder was not associated with changes in overall physical activity over time.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Caspersen CJ, Powell KE, Christenson GM. Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Rep. 1985; 100(2): 126.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Peterson MJ, Giuliani C, Morey MC, et al. Physical activity as a preventative factor for frailty: the health, aging, and body composition study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2009; 64(1): 61–68.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Sherrington C, Whitney JC, Lord SR, Herbert RD, Cumming RG, Close JC. Effective exercise for the prevention of falls: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008; 56(12): 2234–2243.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Vogel T, Brechat PH, Leprêtre PM, Kaltenbach G, Berthel M, Lonsdorfer J. Health benefits of physical activity in older patients: a review. Int J Clin Pract. 2009; 63(2): 303–320.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Can Med Assoc J. 2006; 174(6): 801–809.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Schoenborn CA, Loustalot F. Trend and prevalence estimates based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Am J Prev Med. 2010; 39(4): 305–313.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state of aging and health in America 2013. Available at: Accessed April 29, 2014.

  8. 8.

    Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW. Seeing disorder: neighborhood stigma and the social construction of “broken windows”. Soc Psychol Q. 2004; 67(4): 319–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Bird S, Kurowski W, Feldman S, et al. The influence of the built environment and other factors on the physical activity of older women from different ethnic communities. Journal Women Aging. 2009; 21(1): 33–47.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Tucker-Seeley RD, Subramanian S, Li Y, Sorensen G. Neighborhood safety, socioeconomic status, and physical activity in older adults. Am J Prev Med. 2009; 37(3): 207–213.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Wilcox S, Bopp M, Oberrecht L, Kammermann SK, McElmurray CT. Psychosocial and perceived environmental correlates of physical activity in rural and older African American and white women. J Gerontol Ser B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2003; 58(6): 329–337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Yen IH, Michael YL, Perdue L. Neighborhood environment in studies of health of older adults: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med. 2009; 37(5): 455–463.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Cerin E, Lee K-Y, Barnett A, Sit CHP, Cheung M-C, Chan W-M. Objectively-measured neighborhood environments and leisure-time physical activity in Chinese urban elders. Prev Med. 2013; 56(1): 86–89.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Kamphuis CBA. Socioeconomic differences in lack of recreational walking among older adults: the role of neighbourhood and individual factors. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2009; 6(1): 1.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    King D. Neighborhood and individual factors in activity in older adults: results from the neighborhood and senior health study. J Aging Phys Act. 2008; 16(2): 144–170.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Kwarteng JL, Schulz AJ, Mentz GB, Zenk SN, Opperman AA. Associations between observed neighborhood characteristics and physical activity: findings from a multiethnic urban community. J Public Health. 2014; 36(3): 358–367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Mendes de Leon CF, Cagney KA, Bienias JL, et al. Neighborhood social cohesion and disorder in relation to walking in community-dwelling older adults a multilevel analysis. J Aging Health. 2009; 21(1): 155–171.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Strath SJ, Greenwald MJ, Isaacs R, et al. Measured and perceived environmental characteristics are related to accelerometer defined physical activity in older adults. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012; 9(1): 40.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Rothman KJ, Greenland S, Lash TL. Modern epidemiology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Mooney SJ, Joshi S, Cerdá M, et al. Patterns of physical activity among older adults in New York City: a latent class approach. Am J Prev Med. 2015; 49(3): e13–e22.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Washburn RA, Smith KW, Jette AM, Janney CA. The Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE): development and evaluation. J Clin Epidemiol. 1993; 46(2): 153–162.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Bonnefoy M, Normand S, Pachiaudi C, Lacour JR, Laville M, Kostka T. Simultaneous validation of ten physical activity questionnaires in older men: a doubly labeled water study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001; 49(1): 28–35.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Harada ND, Chiu V, King AC, Stewart AL. An evaluation of three self-report physical activity instruments for older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001; 33(6): 962–970.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Schuit AJ, Schouten EG, Westerterp KR, Saris WH. Validity of the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE): according to energy expenditure assessed by the doubly labeled water method. J Clin Epidemiol. 1997; 50(5): 541–546.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Washburn RA, McAuley E, Katula J, Mihalko SL, Boileau RA. The Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE): evidence for validity. J Clin Epidemiol. 1999; 52(7): 643–651.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Jette AM, Davies AR, Cleary PD, et al. The functional status questionnaire. J Gen Intern Med. 1986; 1(3): 143–149.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW, Earls F. Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science. 1997; 277(5328): 918–924.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Bader MD, Mooney SJ, Lee Y, et al. Development and Deployment of the Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Audit System (CANVAS). Health Place. 2015; 31: 163–172.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Bader MD, Ailshire JA. Creating measures of theoretically relevant neighborhood attributes at multiple spatial scales. Sociol Methodol. 2014. doi:10.1177/0081175013516749.

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Mooney SJ, Bader MD, Lovasi GS, Neckerman KM, Teitler JO, Rundle AG. Validity of an ecometric neighborhood physical disorder measure constructed by virtual street audit. Am J Epidemiol. 2014; 180: 626–635. doi:10.1093/aje/kwu180.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Quinn JW, Mooney SJ, Sheehan DM, et al. Neighborhood physical disorder in New York City. J Maps. 2016; 12(1): 53–60.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Purciel M, Neckerman KM, Lovasi GS, et al. Creating and validating GIS measures of urban design for health research. J Environ Psychol. 2009; 29(4): 457–466.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Rundle AG, Neckerman KM, Freeman L, et al. Neighborhood food environment and walkability predict obesity in New York City. Environ Health Perspect. 2009; 117(3): 442–447.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Freeman L, Neckerman K, Schwartz-Soicher O, et al. Neighborhood walkability and active travel (walking and cycling) in New York City. J Urban Health. 2013; 90(4): 575–585.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Rundle AG, Sheehan DM, Quinn JW, et al. Using GPS data to study neighborhood walkability and physical activity. Am J Prev Med. 2015; 50: e65–e72.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Lovasi GS, Neckerman KM, Quinn JW, Weiss CC, Rundle A. Effect of individual or neighborhood disadvantage on the association between neighborhood walkability and body mass index. Am J Public Health. 2009; 99(2): 279.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Lovasi GS, Bader MDM, Quinn J, Neckerman K, Weiss C, Rundle A. Body mass index, safety hazards, and neighborhood attractiveness. Am J Prev Med. 2012; 43(4): 378–384.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Lovasi GS, Schwartz-Soicher O, Quinn JW, et al. Neighborhood safety and green space as predictors of obesity among preschool children from low-income families in New York City. Prev Med. 2013; 57(3): 189–193.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Lovasi GS, Jacobson JS, Quinn JW, Neckerman KM, Ashby-Thompson MN, Rundle A. Is the environment near home and school associated with physical activity and adiposity of urban preschool children? J Urban Health. 2011; 88(6): 1143–1157.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Rainham D, McDowell I, Krewski D, Sawada M. Conceptualizing the healthscape: contributions of time geography, location technologies and spatial ecology to place and health research. Soc Sci Med. 2010; 70(5): 668–676.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Robins JM, Finkelstein DM. Correcting for noncompliance and dependent censoring in an AIDS clinical trial with Inverse Probability of Censoring Weighted (IPCW) log‐rank tests. Biometrics. 2000; 56(3): 779–788.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Raghunathan TE, Solenberger PW, Van Hoewyk J. IVEware: imputation and variance estimation software. Ann Arbor, MI: Survey Methodology Program, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan; 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Weather Underground. Historical weather. Available at: Accessed 30 July 2015.

  44. 44.

    Brice T, Hall T. Heat index. Available at: Accessed 30 July 2015.

  45. 45.

    Brice T, Hall T. Wind chill. Available at: Accessed 30 July 2015.

  46. 46.

    Edwards LJ. Modern statistical techniques for the analysis of longitudinal data in biomedical research. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2000; 30(4): 330–344.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Skogan W. Disorder and decline the state of research. J Res Crime Delinq. 2015; 52(4): 464–485.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW. Systematic social observation of public spaces: a new look at disorder in urban neighborhoods. Am J Sociol. 1999; 105(3): 603–651.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Wilson JQ, Kelling GL. Broken windows. Atlantic Mon. 1982; 249(3): 29–38.

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Kelling GL, Coles CM. Fixing broken windows: restoring order and reducing crime in our communities. New York, NY: Martin Kessler Books; 1996.

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Keizer K, Lindenberg S, Steg L. The spreading of disorder. Science. 2008; 322(5908): 1681–1685.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Graziose MM, Gray HL, Quinn J, Rundle AG, Contento IR, Koch PA. Peer reviewed: association between the built environment in school neighborhoods with physical activity among New York City children, 2012. Prev Chronic Dis. 2016; 13: 150593.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Theall KP, Drury SS, Shirtcliff EA. Cumulative neighborhood risk of psychosocial stress and allostatic load in adolescents. Am J Epidemiol. 2012; 176(suppl 7): S164–S174.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Lumley T. mitools: tools for multiple imputation of missing data. R package version 2.2. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing; 2012.

  55. 55.

    Morabia A, Costanza MC. Does walking 15 minutes per day keep the obesity epidemic away? Simulation of the efficacy of a populationwide campaign. Am J Public Health. 2004; 94(3): 437–440.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Hernán MA. Invited commentary: hypothetical interventions to define causal effects—afterthought or prerequisite? Am J Epidemiol. 2005; 162(7): 618–620.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Hernán MA, Robins JM. Estimating causal effects from epidemiological data. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2006; 60(7): 578–586.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Moran M, Van Cauwenberg J, Hercky-Linnewiel R, Cerin E, Deforche B, Plaut P. Understanding the relationships between the physical environment and physical activity in older adults: a systematic review of qualitative studies. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014; 11: 79.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Van Cauwenberg J, Van Holle V, Simons D, et al. Environmental factors influencing older adults’ walking for transportation: a study using walk-along interviews. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012; 9(1): 85.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Lorenc T, Clayton S, Neary D, et al. Crime, fear of crime, environment, and mental health and wellbeing: mapping review of theories and causal pathways. Health Place. 2012; 18(4): 757–765.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Van Cauwenberg J, De Bourdeaudhuij I, De Meester F, et al. Relationship between the physical environment and physical activity in older adults: a systematic review. Health Place. 2011; 17(2): 458–469.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Brown SC, Huang S, Perrino T, et al. The relationship of perceived neighborhood social climate to walking in Hispanic older adults a longitudinal, cross-lagged panel analysis. Journal Aging Health. 2011; 23(8): 1325–1351.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Ranchod YK, Roux AVD, Evenson KR, Sánchez BN, Moore K. Longitudinal associations between neighborhood recreational facilities and change in recreational physical activity in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis, 2000–2007. Am J Epidemiol. 2014; 179(3): 335–343.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Sun VK, Cenzer IS, Kao H, Ahalt C, Williams BA. How safe is your neighborhood? Perceived neighborhood safety and functional decline in older adults. J Gen Intern Med. 2012; 27(5): 541–547.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Duncan GJ, Raudenbush SW. Assesing the effects of context in studies of child and youth development. Educ Psychol. 1999; 34(1): 29–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Echeverria SE, Diez-Roux AV, Link BG. Reliability of self-reported neighborhood characteristics. J Urban Health. 2004; 81(4): 682–701.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  67. 67.

    Allison PD. Missing data, vol. 136. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications; 2001.

    Google Scholar 

  68. 68.

    New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Survey data on the health of New Yorkers. Available at: Accessed 30 July 2015.

  69. 69.

    Sinclair M, O’Toole J, Malawaraarachchi M, Leder K. Comparison of response rates and cost-effectiveness for a community-based survey: postal, internet and telephone modes with generic or personalised recruitment approaches. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2012; 12(1): 132.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  70. 70.

    Cleland V, Ball K, Hume C, Timperio A, King AC, Crawford D. Individual, social and environmental correlates of physical activity among women living in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Soc Sci Med. 2010; 70(12): 2011–2018.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  71. 71.

    Oakes JM. The (mis) estimation of neighborhood effects: causal inference for a practicable social epidemiology. Soc Sci Med. 2004; 58(10): 1929–1952.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  72. 72.

    Diez Roux AV. Estimating neighborhood health effects: the challenges of causal inference in a complex world. Soc Sci Med. 2004; 58(10): 1953–1960.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


The research presented here was supported by National Institute for Mental Health grant 5R01MH085132-05 and by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant 5T32HD057822-07. Thelma Mielenz, Alfred Neugut, Shuang Wang, and Ryan Demmer gave helpful comments on an earlier version of this work.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stephen J. Mooney.

Electronic Supplementary Material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Appendix 1

(DOCX 62 kb)

Appendix 2

(DOCX 15 kb)

Appendix 3

(DOCX 480 kb)

Appendix 4

(DOCX 15 kb)

Appendix 5

(DOCX 49 kb)

Appendix 6

(DOCX 15 kb)

Appendix 7

(DOCX 16 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mooney, S.J., Joshi, S., Cerdá, M. et al. Neighborhood Disorder and Physical Activity among Older Adults: A Longitudinal Study. J Urban Health 94, 30–42 (2017).

Download citation


  • Cities
  • Neighborhood physical disorder
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity
  • Urban health