Association Between the Activity Space Exposure to Parks in Childhood and Adolescence and Cognitive Aging in Later Life

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Abstract / Description of output

The exposure to green space in early life may support better cognitive aging in later life. However, this exposure is usually measured using the residential location alone. This disregards the exposure to green spaces in places frequented during daily activities (i.e., the ‘activity space’). Overlooking the multiple locations visited by an individual over the course of a day is likely to result in poor estimation of the environmental exposure and therefore exacerbates the contextual uncertainty. A child’s activity space is influenced by factors including age, sex, and the parental perception of the neighborhood. This paper develops indices of park availability based on individuals’ activity spaces (home, school, and the optimal route to school). These measures are used to examine whether park availability in childhood is related to cognitive change much later in life. Multi-level linear models, including random effects for schools, were used to test the association between park availability during childhood and adolescence and cognitive aging (age 70 to 76) in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 participants (N = 281). To test for the effect modification, these models were stratified by sex and road traffic accident (RTA) density. Park availability during adolescence was associated with better cognitive aging at a concurrently low RTA density (β = 0.98, 95% CI: 0.36 to 1.60), but not when the RTA density was higher (β = 0.22, 95% CI: −0.07 to 0.51). Green space exposure during early life may be important for optimal cognitive aging; this should be evidenced using activity space-based measures within a life-course perspective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2019


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