The urban built environment and mobility in older adults: a comprehensive review

J Aging Res. 2011;2011:816106. doi: 10.4061/2011/816106. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


Mobility restrictions in older adults are common and increase the likelihood of negative health outcomes and premature mortality. The effect of built environment on mobility in older populations, among whom environmental effects may be strongest, is the focus of a growing body of the literature. We reviewed recent research (1990-2010) that examined associations of objective measures of the built environment with mobility and disability in adults aged 60 years or older. Seventeen empirical articles were identified. The existing literature suggests that mobility is associated with higher street connectivity leading to shorter pedestrian distances, street and traffic conditions such as safety measures, and proximity to destinations such as retail establishments, parks, and green spaces. Existing research is limited by differences in exposure and outcome assessments and use of cross-sectional study designs. This research could lead to policy interventions that allow older adults to live more healthy and active lives in their communities.