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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAlbany: Neighborhood Social Cohesion & Walking Limitations in Older Latinxs in the U.S.

On average, older adults walk for approximately 90 minutes per week, which is only slightly more than half of the recommended 150 minute guideline. Studies have examined the impact of neighborhood on the health and walking habits of older adults; however, these studies often focus on the environmental characteristics rather than the social dimensions of neighborhood.

Dr. Elizabeth Vásquez and colleagues at CUNY and the University of Huston recently examined the association between neighborhood social cohesion and walking limitations among older Latinxs overall and by specific ethnic groups. Their findings, published in Ethnicity and Disease, show that neighborhood context must be included as an important determinant of overall health among racial and ethnically diverse older adults.

Using data from the 2013 to 2016 National Health Interview Survey, Dr. Vásquez analyzed 3,716 adults over 60 years old on their walking limitation (measured by self-reported walking difficulty) and social cohesion (measured by 4 questions about their neighborhoods). The participants were categorized into five major groups: Mexican/Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Central/South American.

Those with high neighborhood social cohesion reported lower prevalence of walking limitations compared to participants living in neighborhoods with low social cohesion. When broken down by Hispanic sub-group, only the Mexican American group was less affected by a lack of social cohesion. These findings emphasize that further study of social cohesion in older adults could provide insight into health, health behaviors, and potential ways to increase health.