Applying a person-environment fit to examine the role of urban nature on physical activity in older adults
: a case study in Belfast, Northern Ireland

  • Danielle MacCarthy

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Adequate physical activity is essential for wellbeing at all ages and has particularly important health benefits for older adults. However, only one quarter of UK older adults currently meets the WHO recommendation of ‘150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week’ (WHO, 2020) for substantial health benefits. It is well established that levels of physical activity are influenced by a wide range of factors, including the built environment. In recent decades, the role urban nature plays in health maintenance has also received increasing attention, but there does not appear to be conclusive evidence of how nature supports physical activity, particularly in the case of older adult.

This thesis’ overall aim was to explore the role of urban nature and built environment attributes and examine their associations with physical activity in older age adults in a person- environment fit model. In order to do this, the thesis develops a conceptual framework for exploring environmental influences on older adults’ physical activity, drawing on a person-environment fit model.

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2024.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorGeraint Ellis (Supervisor), Cristian Silva (Supervisor) & Deepti Adlakha (Supervisor)


  • Older adults
  • urban nature
  • P-E fit
  • physical activity

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