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Effective promotion of physical activity among older adults, and the evaluation of those efforts, requires a better understanding of the impact of seasonal patterns on physical activity.
This article used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, a population-based telephone survey, to examine the association between levels of physical activity among older adults and season of the year, temperature, and rainfall.
A statistically significant seasonal pattern was identified for general physical activity; for example, recommended physical activity was 62% higher in relative terms in June than in December (63% active versus 39%). However, no significant association was found between season and walking, and rainfall and temperature did not appear to influence the level of activity over and above the effect of season.
Evaluations of walking programs for seniors may not need to make adjustments for seasonality when measuring impact using pre/post surveys.
The author is with the Dept of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.