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Understanding the relative importance of micro-level design characteristics of walking paths in parks to promote walking among older adults
journal contributionposted on 2023-11-21, 04:31 authored by C Paudel, Anna TimperioAnna Timperio, V Loh, B Deforche, Jo SalmonJo Salmon, Jenny VeitchJenny Veitch
Walking paths have been consistently highlighted as important for facilitating older adults’ physical activity in parks. However, little is known about the micro-level design characteristics of walking paths that are most appealing for older adults to be active during their park visits. This study aimed to examine the relative importance of selected micro-level design characteristics of walking paths preferred by older adults and to investigate if preferences varied by gender, park accompaniment, and mobility status. Older adults (n = 383, 65–93 years; 56% female) completed a series of Adaptive Choice- Based Conjoint tasks in an online survey to identify the relative importance scores and part-worth utilities of micro-level design features of walking paths using Hierarchical Bayes analyses (Sawtooth Software). The ten micro-level design features that were examined included: gradient; width; surface type; benches, shady trees, garden beds, water body and light fixtures along the path; continuous walking loop; and access from carpark. For the overall sample, the three most important features of walking paths were the gradient of the path (21.3%, 95%CI=19.6–22.9), shady trees along the path (21.2%, 95%CI=20.1–22.4), and surface type (13.3%, 95%CI=12.2–14.4). For these top three features, the part-worth utility scores showed that paths with gentle slopes; lots of shady trees; and rubber surfaces were preferred respectively. This study helps inform which micro-level design characteristics to prioritise when (re)designing walking paths to encourage and facilitate active park use by older adults.