Examining Indirect Associations Between Physical Activity, Function, and Disability in Independent- and Assisted-Living Residents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Few studies have examined physical activity behavior and its associated outcomes in older adults living in retirement communities. Guided by the disablement model and social cognitive theory, we tested a cross-sectional model in which physical activity was hypothesized to influence disability indirectly through self-efficacy, functional performance, and functional limitations.


One hundred six older men and women residing in independent-living (ILF) assisted-living (ALF) facilities completed self-report measures of self-efficacy, function, and disability. Objective assessments of physical activity and functional performance were conducted using waist-mounted accelerometers and the short physical performance battery (SPPB), respectively. Path analysis was used to examine the proposed associations among constructs.


Older adults who were more active were also more efficacious and had better physical function and fewer functional limitations. Only higher levels of self-efficacy were associated with less disability. The effects of individual-level covariates were also examined.


This cross-sectional study is among the first to examine the associations between physical activity, function, and disability among older adults residing in ILFs and ALFs. Future research addressing the physical and psychological needs of this growing population is warranted.

Hall is with the Dept of Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC. McAuley is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL.

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