Physical activity is related to quality of life in older adults

Luke S. Acree, Jessica Longfors, Anette S. Fjeldstad, Cecilie Fjeldstad, Bob Schank, Kevin J. Nickel, Polly S. Montgomery, Andrew W. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


Background: Physical activity is associated with health-related quality of life (HRQL) in clinical populations, but less is known whether this relationship exists in older men and women who are healthy. Thus, this study determined if physical activity was related to HRQL in apparently healthy, older subjects. Methods: Measures were obtained from 112 male and female volunteers (70 ± 8 years, mean ± SD) recruited from media advertisements and flyers around the Norman, Oklahoma area. Data was collected using a medical history questionnaire, HRQL from the Medical Outcomes Survey short form-36 questionnaire, and physical activity level from the Johnson Space Center physical activity scale. Subjects were separated into either a higher physically active group (n = 62) or a lower physically active group (n = 50) according to the physical activity scale. Results: The HRQL scores in all eight domains were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the group reporting higher physical activity. Additionally, the more active group had fewer females (44% vs. 72%, p = 0.033), and lower prevalence of hypertension (39% vs. 60%, p = 0.041) than the low active group. After adjusting for gender and hypertension, the more active group had higher values in the following five HRQL domains: physical function (82 ± 20 vs. 68 ± 21, p = 0.029), role-physical (83 ± 34 vs. 61 ± 36, p = 0.022), bodily pain (83 ± 22 vs. 66 ± 23, p = 0.001), vitality (74 ± 15 vs. 59 ± 16, p = 0.001), and social functioning (92 ± 18 vs. 83 ± 19, p = 0.040). General health, role-emotional, and mental health were not significantly different (p > 0.05) between the two groups. Conclusion: Healthy older adults who regularly participated in physical activity of at least moderate intensity for more than one hour per week had higher HRQL measures in both physical and mental domains than those who were less physically active. Therefore, incorporating more physical activity into the lifestyles of sedentary or slightly active older individuals may improve their HRQL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
JournalHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
StatePublished - Jun 30 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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