Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Assessment of Physical Activity in Older Adults

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Assessment of Physical Activity in Older Adults

Article excerpt

Keywords: physical activity, older adults, questionnaires, reliability, validity

During the past 10 to 15 years the association of physical activity, a modifiable behavioral factor, and the risk for chronic disease and functional decline in older individuals has received increased research attention (Heckler, 1985). Over ten years ago, data from the Alameda County Study showed that, among the elderly, participation in leisure time physical activity was associated with a decreased risk of mortality over a 17-year follow-up, that was independent of age, socioeconomic status, health status, smoking, relative weight and alcohol consumption (Kaplan, Seeman, Cohen, Knudsen & Guralnik, 1987). More recently, physical activity has been associated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular mortality in elderly Spanish men and women (Ruigomez, Alonso & Anto, 1995), both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in elderly Dutch men (Bijnen, Caspersen, et al., 1998), and with the incidence of coronary heart disease in middle-aged and elderly Japanese American men living in Hawaii (Donahue, Abbott, Reed, & Yano, 1988). In addition, reports from the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly cohort have shown increased physical activity was significantly associated with a longer life expectancy at age 65 in both men and women, smokers and non-smokers (Ferrucci et al., 1999), with fewer years of disability prior to death (Leveille, Guralnik, Ferrucci, & Langlois, 1999), and with a decreased risk of losing mobility (LaCroix, Guralnik, Berkman, Wallace, & Satterfield, 1993). Maintaining a physically active lifestyle in later years has also been associated with a decreased risk for falls and hip fractures (Buchner et al., 1997; Campbell et al., 1997a; Joakimsen, Magus, & Fonnebo, 1997; Province et al., 1995; Slememda, 1997), as well as slowing the age-associated declines in bone mass (Graffmans, Bouter, & Lips, 1998; Snow-Harter & Marcus, 1991; Wolff, van Croonenborg, Kemper, Kostense, & Twisk, 1999) and muscular strength (Jette et al., 1999; Rantanen, Era, & Heikkinen, 1997; Tracyetal., 1999) .

While considerable evidence regarding the importance of physical activity in maintaining health and functional ability in older people has accumulated, a number of important questions remain. Do the current public health recommendations for physical activity and health, that every U.S. adult accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week (Pate et al., 1995), provide optimal health benefits for individuals over age 65? Does the type, amount, and intensity of physical activity necessary to decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes or osteoporosis, or with the maintenance of functional capabilities in older individuals differ across outcomes? What are the demographic and psychosocial correlates of physical activity participation in older people? What are the best strategies to promote physical activity in older individuals? To adequately address these, as well as other, issues related to the association of physical activity and health in older people, it is essential that methods for physical activity assessment be developed that are suitable for use in epidemiologic studies of this age group.

Physical Activity Assessment Options

Physical activity can be assessed by a variety of techniques such as motion sensors (Freedson, Melanson, & Sirard, 1998; Tryon & Williams, 1996), heart rate monitoring (Livingstone, 1997; Matiasson-Nilo et al., 1990), activity diaries (Bouchard et al., 1983; Carp & Carp, 1981; Kalkwarf, Haas, Belko, Roach, & Roe, 1989), doubly labeled water (Scholler et al., 1986; Starling, Toth, Carpenter, Mathews & Poelhman, 1998), and activity questionnaires (Pereira et al., 1997). Problems with cost, both financial and in terms of investigator and respondent burden, and logistical considerations, generally limit the use of motion sensors, heart rate monitoring, doubly labeled water and activity diaries to studies of small non-representative samples of older individuals. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.