Background: Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the United States, with the highest rates of incidence in African American and Latino communities. The risk of stroke and chronic diseases are known to be lower if a person has an active lifestyle. There is also a lot of data supporting the idea that many low-income communities have worse health outcomes than more affluent communities because of the inability to walk and exercise in their neighborhoods.
Objectives: 1) To explore whether there are differences in walkability among racial/ethnic minority seniors attending four different senior centers in vastly different neighborhoods in Los Angeles. 2) To examine the association between perceived neighborhood walkability and mean reported steps per week.
Methods: The study used data from a baseline interview and pedometer data of 233 participants enrolled in a NIH funded randomized trial and stroke prevention program called “Worth the Walk”. Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (NEWSA) surveys were given to every participant at each of the four senior centers; Watts labor (Watts), St. Barnabas (Koreatown), Chinatown Service Center (Chinatown), and Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MOAF) in Montebello. Mean subscale scores of the NEWSA were compared across senior centers using unadjusted regression models and followed up with pairwise comparisons with Sidak adjustments. Spearman correlations were measured between mean steps per week and NEWSA survey scores using the rho and p values.
Results: Under NEWSA-Subscale G (Traffic hazards) and NEWSA subscale C (Land use mix), participants at the Chinatown Service Center reported lower walkability than those at St. Barnabas senior center (p<0.05); scores were also lower than at MAOF and Watts for subscale C. Steps per day measured by FitBit pedometer were not positively correlated with any of the subscales of the NEWSA.
Conclusions: Participants attending Chinatown Service Center reported the lowest levels of walkability in terms of street connectivity and how many places there were to walk to in their neighborhood. There were no correlations between how much the participants walked and how they perceived the walkability of their neighborhoods. These findings suggest that perceived neighborhood walkability is not a major contributor to walking levels among seniors living in these Los Angeles communites.