The relationship between urbanization, the built environment, and physical activity among older adults in Taiwan

Nuan Ching Huang, Shiann Far Kung, Susan C. Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Urbanization and ageing are global phenomena and offer unique challenges in different countries. A supportive environment plays a critical role in addressing the issue of behavioral change and health promotion among older adults. Many studies in the U.S., EU, and Australia have considered promoting physical activity in the community based on ecological models, whereas very few Asian studies have examined the relationships among urbanization, the built environment and physical activity in elderly at the ecological level, especially from a multi-level perspective. Due to the prevalence of post-war baby boomers and a very low birth-rate, the older population (aged 65 years old and older) in Taiwan has increased rapidly since 2011 and has exceeded the younger generation (0–14 years old) in 2017. Hence, the purpose of this study was first to examine the degree of urbanization in townships and the status of related built environments in Taiwan and then to investigate whether the built environment is associated with recommended amounts of physical activity among older adults. Three national datasets and a multi-level design were used in this research. Data at the individual level was obtained from the 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) which was taken from June 2009 to February 2010. Ecological data was obtained from the 2006 National Land Use Investigation of the National Geographic Information System and the 2010 Population and Housing Census. The analyses included a descriptive analysis, a bivariate analysis, a multiple logistic regression, and a multi-level analysis, utilizing a mostly hierarchical linear model (HLM). The results showed a significant relationship between factors at the environmental levels and physical activity in older adults. Urbanization, the built environment, and the median income of townships were positively correlated to the physical activity of the older adults. After controlling for individual-level factors, urbanization still exhibited this correlation. Parks and green spaces were associated with achieving the recommended amount of physical activity. However, there was no relationship after controlling for factors at the individual level. Detailed discussions were provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article number836
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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