The aim of this study was to examine the role of walking in explaining associations between perceived and objective measures of walkability and cognitive function among older adults. The study employed a cross-sectional design analyzing existing data. Data were obtained from the Adult Changes in Thought Activity Monitor study. Cognitive function and perceived walkability were measured by a survey. Objective walkability was measured using geographic information systems (GIS). Walking was measured using an accelerometer. We tested the mediating relationship based on 1,000 bootstrapped samples. Perceived walkability was associated with a 0.04 point higher cognitive function score through walking (p = 0.006). The mediating relationship accounted for 34% of the total relationship between perceived walkability and cognitive function. Walking did not have a significant indirect relationship on the association between objective walkability and cognitive function. Perceived walkability may be more relevant to walking behavior than objective walkability among older adults. Greater levels of perceived walkability may encourage older adults to undertake more walking, and more walking may in turn improve cognitive function in older adults.
Keywords: Built environment; Cognitive function; Mediation analysis; Older adults; Walking.
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