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Background:

Older adults with osteoarthritis (OA) often report that their disease symptoms are exacerbated by weather conditions. This study examines the association between outdoor physical activity (PA) and weather conditions in older adults from 6 European countries and assesses whether outdoor PA and weather conditions are more strongly associated in older persons with OA than in those without the condition.

Methods:

The American College of Rheumatology classification criteria were used to diagnose OA. Outdoor PA was assessed using the LASA Physical Activity Questionnaire. Data on weather parameters were obtained from weather stations.

Results:

Of the 2439 participants (65–85 years), 29.6% had OA in knee, hand and/or hip. Participants with OA spent fewer minutes in PA than participants without OA (Median = 42.9, IQR = 20.0 to 83.1 versus Median = 51.4, IQR = 23.6 to 98.6; P < .01). In the full sample, temperature (B = 1.52; P < .001) and relative humidity (B = –0.77; P < .001) were associated with PA. Temperature was more strongly associated with PA in participants without OA (B = 1.98; P < .001) than in those with the condition (B = 0.48; P = .47).

Conclusions:

Weather conditions are associated with outdoor PA in older adults in the general population. Outdoor PA and weather conditions were more strongly associated in older adults without OA than in their counterparts with OA.

Timmermans, van der Pas, and Deeg are with the Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Dennison and Edwards are with the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, United Kingdom. Maggi, Limongi, and Siviero are with the National Research Council, Aging Branch, Institute of Neuroscience, Padova, Italy. Peter and Herbolsheimer are with the Institute of the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany. Castell, Sánchez-Martínez, and Queipo are with the Dept of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Unit of Primary Care and Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. Pedersen is with the Dept of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Denkinger is with the Bethesda Geriatric Clinic, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany. Schaap is with the Dept of Health Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Timmermans (ej.timmermans@vumc.nl) is corresponding author.