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Walking for exercise might counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. We examined the demographic and health-related predictors of walking 1 mile per week or more among the elderly. Data were from the 1984 Longitudinal Study of Aging. Participants were 7,527 adults age 70 years or older. Demographic factors related to walking were younger age, college-level education, being unmarried, and higher income. Health-related variables associated with walking included positive self-perception of health, internal health locus of control, and absence of activity limitations. The prevalence of regular walking for exercise was low in the study population (38% and 26% for men and women, respectively). Interventions that increase the internal health locus of control might be effective in increasing walking among the elderly.
Friis, Nomura, and Ma are with the Dept. of Health Science, California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA 90840-4902. Swan is with the Dept. of Public Health Science, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS 67260.