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Relevance of urban green space for physical activity and health-related quality of life in older adults

Evi Petersen (Department of Sports, Physical Education and Outdoor Life, University of Southeast Norway – Campus: Bø i Telemark, Norway)
Gerhard Schoen (Department of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, Universitatsklinikum Hamburg Eppendorf Zentrum Experimentelle Medizin, Hamburg, Germany)
Gunnar Liedtke (Department of Human Movement Science, Universitat Hamburg Fakultat fur Psychologie und Bewegungswissenschaft, Hamburg, Germany)
Astrid Zech (Department of Sport Science, Friedrich-Schiller-Universitat Jena, Jena, Germany)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 19 September 2018

Issue publication date: 8 November 2018




Urban green space (UGS) shows to be a sustainable resource stimulating physical activity, health and quality of life in the general population. With regard to an aging European population, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between UGS, physical activity and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in community-dwelling older adults.


Cross-sectional survey data were provided by a sample from Hamburg (Germany), consisting of 272 adults aged⩾65 years. Respondents answered questions regarding HRQoL (Short Form 12), physical activity (German-PAQ-50+) and exposure to UGS. The authors applied a linear regression to analyse the relationship between weekly duration of exposure to UGS and physical activity. While controlling for confounding factors, the authors used a multivariate linear regression model to detect effects on HRQoL.


A significant effect (adjusted R2: 4.3 per cent; p-value⩽0.001) was found for weekly duration of exposure to UGS and weekly physical activity. Multiple linear regression showed significant positive effects of weekly duration of exposure to UGS (p=0.010) and weekly time of physical activity (p=0.017) on HRQoL. Age, sex and feeling of satisfaction were identified as relevant confounding factors.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should continue to explore the indicators that mediate an increase of physical activity and HRQoL in the heterogeneous age band of older adults.

Practical implications

Findings suggest that community-dwelling older adults are likely to benefit from higher amounts of time in UGS since it is positively associated with both physical activity and HRQoL. Therefore, urban planners should explicitly consider the demands of community-dwelling older adults towards UGS.


This study is one of the first to examine the relationship between UGS, physical activity and HRQoL in older adults.



Funding: This research did not receive any grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. Conflict of Interest Statement: None. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. The authors thank all contributing participants as well as the association of senior citizens leisure meeting points for providing access to several senior citizens meeting points in Hamburg, Germany. Further, the authors wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and valuable comments.


Petersen, E., Schoen, G., Liedtke, G. and Zech, A. (2018), "Relevance of urban green space for physical activity and health-related quality of life in older adults", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 158-166.



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