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Getting Tougher for the Fourth Quarter: Boomers and Physical Activity

James H. Swan, Robert Friis, and Keith Turner

Baby Boomers might not consider themselves as growing old but are starting to reach the last quarter of average life spans. This article asks how Boomers prepare for their fourth quarters through physical activity. Three years (1999–2001) of National Health Interview Survey data yielded 96,501 adult respondents. Dependent variables were moderate, vigorous, and strengthening activity. Old boomers (1946–1955) and young boomers (1956–1965) were compared to respondents born before 1926, after 1975, and 10-year cohorts between. SUDAAN multiple logistic regression adjusted for complex sampling structure and multiply imputed income. Age-adjusted, older cohorts showed greater likelihood of activity than younger cohorts, offsetting moderate-activity declines with age until sharp decreases at advanced age: a plateau across Boomer and younger-aged cohorts. Interventions should promote activity at intensities and frequencies to which Boomers are most receptive.

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Socioepidemiologic and Health-Related Correlates of Walking for Exercise among the Elderly: Results from the Longitudinal Study of Aging

Robert H. Friis, Wendy L. Nomura, Christine X. Ma, and James H. Swan

Walking for exercise might counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. We examined the demographic and health-related predictors of walking 1 mile per week or more among the elderly. Data were from the 1984 Longitudinal Study of Aging. Participants were 7,527 adults age 70 years or older. Demographic factors related to walking were younger age, college-level education, being unmarried, and higher income. Health-related variables associated with walking included positive self-perception of health, internal health locus of control, and absence of activity limitations. The prevalence of regular walking for exercise was low in the study population (38% and 26% for men and women, respectively). Interventions that increase the internal health locus of control might be effective in increasing walking among the elderly.