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Lack of physical activity is an increasing public-health problem. Physicians should counsel elderly patients to maintain regular physical activity in order to retain functionality and quality of life. This study examined the patterns of physician advice about physical activity in an elderly population. A homogeneous group of older adults living in public housing (N = 146) was surveyed to determine the extent to which they received such advice. Their mean age was 77.9 ± 7 years, 74% were women, 70.5% were White, and 53.4% had high school education or less. We assessed the association between physician counseling practices and the participants’ demographic characteristics, overweight status, and type of physical activity performed. The prevalence rate of physician counseling was 61.6%. Elderly men who were married and those who were overweight were most likely to receive advice. Routine physician counseling of elderly patients regardless of overweight status could contribute to improving their quality of life.
Balde is with the Cecil County Health Department, Elkton, MD 21921. Figueras is a public health officer with the City of Wilmington, DE 19801. Hawking is with Health Care Financing Administration, Baltimore, MD 21244. Miller is with Network to Improve Community Health, Greenbelt, MD 20768-1214.