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Physical activity, especially walking, plays an important role in maintaining function in old age. Unimpeded mobility in older people’s living environment is a prerequisite for staying autonomous, for meaningful participation in the society, and maintaining quality of life. The GEOage project will study the impact of environmental features on outdoor mobility and physical activity of older people. In this project we have a unique opportunity to study how experiences of the environment and behavior of older people are related to the physical environment in which they live.

In this project, freely available geographic information characterizing the environment is linked to participant data of the “Life-space mobility in old age” (LISPE) cohort. This cohort comprises 75-90 years old inhabitants of Jyväskylä and Muurame, in Central Finland. From the participants, data was collected on environmental barriers and facilitators, outdoor mobility and physical activity as well as on health and well-being. Home addresses of participants were mapped and environmental features of the close neighborhood were studied using a Geographical Information System (GIS). For example, pre-existing information on land use, road networks and amenities will be utilized in this project.

From a public health perspective, it is essential to recognize features in the environment hindering older people’s outdoor mobility and those motivating them to leave home and be physically active. GEOage research findings may be utilized for scientific research as well as for infrastructural planning.

Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture

Research group
Principal Investigator

Dr. Erja Portegijs,, Gerontology Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä

Research team
Dr. Merja Rantakokko, Dr. Béla Pavelka, Prof. Taina Rantanen, Gerontology Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä

Prof. Kimmo Suomi, MSc. Kirsi Vehkakoski, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä

Doctoral student
MSc. Kirsi Keskinen,, University of Jyväskylä. Topic: How far is too far? Objectively measured and perceived environmental barriers and facilitators and outdoor mobility of community-dwelling older people

Most important publications

Keskinen KE, Rantakokko M, Suomi K, Rantanen T, Portegijs E. Nature as a facilitator for physical activity: Defining relationships between the objective and perceived environment and physical activity among community-dwelling older people. Health and Place. 2018; 49: 111-119.

Portegijs E, Keskinen KE, Tsai L-T, Rantanen T, Rantakokko M. Physical limitations, walkability, perceived environmental facilitators and physical activity of older adults in Finland. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2017;14:333.

Portegijs E, Rantakokko M, Viljanen A, Rantanen T, Iwarsson S. Perceived and objective entrance-related environmental barriers and daily out-of-home mobility in community-dwelling older people. Archives Gerontology and Geriatrics 2017;69:69-76.

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