Physical Impairments Disrupt the Association Between Physical Activity and Loneliness: A Longitudinal Study

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study explores the association between physical activity (PA), loneliness, and the presence of physical chronic impairments among single older adults. A longitudinal study (N = 575; mean age 76 ± 8 years) was conducted. The association between self-reported weekly minutes of moderate to vigorous PA, loneliness, and presence of physical impairments was assessed with multilevel analyses at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. Improvements in moderate to vigorous PA were associated with decreases in loneliness (B = −0.09, SE = 0.04, p = .020); this association became nonsignificant when including the presence of physical impairments in the analyses (p = .824), which in itself was positively associated with loneliness (B = 0.51, SE = 0.10, p < .001). Findings indicate that physical impairments have a larger influence on loneliness than the level of PA. Interventions targeting PA and loneliness should tailor specifically to physical impairments.

The authors are with the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands.

Boekhout (janet.boekhout@ou.nl) is corresponding author.
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