The primary objective of this study was to determine whether the absence of outdoor activities is associated with an increased risk of mortality among elderly people living at home. In January 1995, the authors enrolled 863 household residents, 65 years old and older, who were able to fully understand and complete a baseline interview unassisted. Participant demographics, functional capabilities, activities of daily living, and three dimensions of outdoor activities (initiative, transport, and frequency) were examined. Cohort mortality was assessed through December 1999. Of the 863 participants, 139 (16.1%) died within the study observation period. After adjusting for gender and age, three dimensions of functional impairment (vision, hearing, and speech), impairment in activities of daily living, and all three dimensions of outdoor activities were predictive of 5-year mortality. In multivariate analysis, these three dimensions remained as explanatory variables for mortality at 5 years. Assessment of outdoor-activity levels can help identify elderly individuals with greater mortality risk.
Inoue and Shono are with the Dept. of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033 Japan. Matsumoto is with the Division of Community and Family Medicine, Center for Community Medicine, Jichi Medical University, Tochigi, Japan.