Bidirectional Associations Between Physical Activity and Pain Among Older Adults: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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Tyler J. DavisDepartment of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA

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Derek J. HevelDepartment of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA

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Genevieve F. DuntonDepartment of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Jaclyn P. MaherDepartment of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA

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This paper examines the within-day, bidirectional associations between physical activity and self-reported pain among older adults. Older adults (N = 104; range: 60–98 years) participated in a 10-day Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) study. Participants received six EMA prompts/day with a single item assessing pain. Participants wore an activPAL monitor measuring step counts. At the within-person level, on occasions when participants took more steps than usual in the 30 min before the EMA prompt, they were more likely to experience pain at the prompt (β^02=0.0003, p < .03). At the between-person level, greater step counts in the 30 min before the EMA prompt, on average, were associated with less pain on occasions when pain was experienced (β^01=0.0005, p < .04). Pain was not related to subsequent stepping. Bidirectional associations between physical activity and pain were not documented, but physical activity did appear to be related to subsequent pain.

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