Modes and locales of physical activity
Older adults are important from a public health standpoint as the number and proportion of elderly in our population is increasing. Further, this segment of the population is characterized by low physical activity involvement and suffers from hypokinetic diseases at high rates. Thus, health promoters should be aware of the types of PA that older adults engage in, and where that PA occurs. The purpose of this study was to describe the modes of PA in which middle-aged and older adults engage in and locales of where that PA occurs. An additional purpose was to identify predictors of meeting PA guidelines that have been created by experts. We also sought to determine if participation in social activities predicted meeting PA guidelines, as both are important aspects of aging. Knowledge of such information could be valuable in designing PA interventions. Methods: The study design was cross-sectional and all data was collected via a telephone interview. A racially mixed sample of 350 females and 199 males completed a 52-item survey that included measures of PA behavior and neighborhood characteristics. Twenty participants failed to report their gender and were excluded from the analysis. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of meeting PA guidelines. Results: Participant ages ranged from 45-89 years (M = 60.8). The most frequently cited mode of PA was walking, by 53.7% of the sample, most of which occurred near residences (63.6%). Only 11.2% of participants met PA guidelines by doing either moderately or vigorously intense PA. Predictors of meeting PA guidelines included doing PA in a community facility or fitness club, and participation in social activities, which approached significance. Public health personnel should recommend activities, especially walking, to older adults that can be done near their homes, and future research should assess neighborhood characteristics that are supportive of, or hinder the PA of older adults.