Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
PI: Craig Zimring
CO-PI: Ruth Dalton
Introduction:This project, conducted jointly with AAHSA, the major professional organization for non-profit continuing-care communities, conducted a survey of 400 retirement communities to record the presence and use of activity friendly design features and layouts. This study documents support for everyday physical activity in the design and programming of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Most previous research has focused on younger adults. The research team conducted an online and paper survey with 398 communities to assess current physical provisions for everyday physical activity, physical activity-related programs and the funding and administration of physical activity-related programs; the overall response rate is 52 percent (398/759). The surveys were addressed to facility administrators, who were asked to direct specific questions to others in their facility as needed.
The data from the study show that most campuses are located either in suburban areas or in small cities, are less than 50 acres in size and are either entirely flat or are mostly flat with some gradual slopes. Half of all campuses surveyed are less than 30 years old. The campuses surveyed have many different types of outdoor features that support participation in physical activity such as walking paths, gardens, garden plots, swimming pools, etc. In addition, most campuses have supportive indoor environments with features such as corridors with seating every 30’-50’ and corridors with views to the outdoors. Few campuses (14%) have buildings specifically dedicated to physical activity, but many campuses have indoor physical activity facilities such as fitness rooms with equipment, multipurpose activity rooms and dedicated physical therapy rooms on campus. Based on the literature, it was hypothesized that the environment influenced participation in physical activity at three different spatial scales – at the level of the outside community, at the campus level and at the building level. We used the data from current study to explore relationships between environmental factors at different scales and participation in physical activity found to be plausible based on previous research.