Outdoor Green Spaces and Active Ageing from the Perspective of Environmental Gerontology

Diego Sánchez-González / Carmen Egea-Jiménez

Capítulo del libro: Handbook of Active Ageing and Quality of Life. From Concepts to Applications

Green areas, gardens, parks and other public spaces are vital in the design of friendly cities due to their positive effects on the health and quality of life of elderly people. Nonetheless, there is limited knowledge of the implications of outdoor green spaces in active ageing, a problem that restricts the design of intervention programs. The research examines the influences of outdoor green spaces in the promotion of active aging, from the approach of environmental gerontology. The methodology is based on a review of the bibliography obtained by consulting databases such as Web of Science and Scopus. The results indicate that exposure to outdoor green spaces promotes active ageing by encouraging physical activities, social relations and active participation in the community. The discussion suggests that via the control of the attributes and functions of these natural settings it is possible to strengthen or weaken the pillars of active ageing (health, security, participation and lifelong learning). We propose a model for intervention in active ageing based on the optimum adaptation of the specific characteristics of outdoor green spaces to the capacities and preferences of elderly people. We also recommend that new research be conducted from interdisciplinary, longitudinal perspectives that use mixed methods in the assessment of the characteristics of physical natural settings, so as to be able to adapt and improve them within the design of intervention programs to encourage active ageing. It is also important to encourage the active participation of elderly people in the design and planning of friendly cities, in which natural elements can promote lifelong healthy lifestyles.