Health for Older Adults: The Role of Social Capital and Leisure-Time Physical Activity by Living Arrangements

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: The purposes of this study were to (1) explore the influence of social capital and leisure-time physical activity on older adults’ physical and mental health and (2) test whether these relationships varied by living arrangement. Methods: This cross-sectional study used national data from the 2013 National Health Interview Study. The subjects included 7714 adults aged 65 years or older. Logistic regressions were used to predict the probability of subjects being overweight or obese. Ordinary linear regressions were performed to predict mental health outcomes. Results: Older adults living alone were more likely to report feeling sad (alone: 1.5; with others: 1.36), hopeless (alone: 1.25; with others: 1.18), and worthless (alone: 1.22; with others: 1.15). They were also more likely to experience lower levels of social support (alone: 3.24; with others: 3.30), trust (alone: 3.34; with others: 3.44), cohesion (alone: 2.95; with others: 2.98), and enjoy less leisure-time physical activity (alone: 49.85 min; with others: 64.64 min) than those living with others. Hispanic and divorced/separated older adults who lived alone were prioritized for health intervention. Conclusions: Older adults living alone had poorer mental health, less social capital, and engaged in less frequent leisure-time physical activity. Promoting social capital could improve mental health in older adults living alone.

Yu is with the School of Public Administration, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL. Hou is with the Dept of Health Management and Informatics, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL. Miller is with the Health Sciences, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.

Yu (ychiayuan@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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