Distance From Public Transportation and Physical Activity in Japanese Older Adults: The Moderating Role of Driving Status

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Objective: Although previous studies have shown that good access to public transportation is positively related with physical activity, the moderators of this relationship have not been explored sufficiently in older adults. It is possible that driving status could moderate this relationship. The present study examined whether the objectively measured distance between public transportation and the home was associated with physical activity levels, and whether this association was moderated by driving status among Japanese older adults. Method: In this cross-sectional study, participants (n = 2,878) completed questionnaires and wore accelerometers for at least 7 days, to measure their average daily step counts and minutes spent engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Road network distances between the home and the nearest bus stop or train station were measured using geographic information systems. Driving status was assessed using questionnaires. Results: Multiple regression analyses stratified by driving status revealed that, among nondrivers, living further away from public transportation was associated with higher step counts (β = 0.08, p < .001) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (β = 0.06, p = .029). Among drivers, living closer to public transportation was significantly associated with higher moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels (β = −0.05, p = .042). Conclusion: Despite the small effect sizes, the direction of the association between distance from public transportation and physical activity was different for current drivers and nondrivers. These findings imply that good access to public transportation does not positively relate with greater engagement in physical activity among nondriving older adults. Shorter distances to public transportation might reduce opportunities for engaging in physical activity for them.

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