Purpose: To examine relationships between selected sociodemographic, health-related and environmental factors and levels of physical activity in older adults across three age groups.
Methods: Seven hundred sixty-four older adults (mean age = 77.4 ± 8.6 yr) from a midsize Canadian city completed a self-administered questionnaire under researcher supervision. Level of physical activity was determined using the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE). Correlates of physical activity were examined using previously validated questionnaires. The findings pertaining to personal and environmental factors are presented.
Results: Overall, significantly higher mean PASE scores were seen in those individuals in the following categories: male (P < 0.001), married or common-law (P < 0.001), not living alone (P < 0.001), not living in senior's housing (P < 0.001), higher levels of education (P < 0.001) and higher incomes (P < 0.001). Better physical health showed significant positive associations (P < 0.001) with PASE score. Individuals reporting at least four or more chronic health conditions had significantly lower PASE scores than those reporting no chronic conditions (P < 0.001). Significantly lower PASE scores were also reported in those using domestic services (P < 0.001). Higher PASE scores were related to the presence of hills, biking and walking trails, street lights, various recreation facilities, seeing others active and unattended dogs (P < 0.001 to P < 0.05).
Conclusion: An understanding of the factors that influence physical activity behavior in older adults is critical to developing effective intervention strategies that will address the problem of physical inactivity in this population, and in doing so, improve the health status and quality of life of the older adult, while having a significant impact on healthcare expenditures.