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  • Author: Florian Herbolsheimer x
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Florian Herbolsheimer, Stephanie Mosler, Richard Peter and the ActiFE Ulm Study Group

Social relationships have a powerful effect on physical activity. However, it is unclear how physical activity patterns are associated with perceived social isolation. A cohort study was performed on 1,162 community-dwelling older adults. In cross-sectional analyses, social isolation was screened using the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6). Physical activity was measured by an accelerometer (activPAL). Participants kept a contemporary physical activity diary to report outdoor physical activity timeframes. Low levels of physical activity were associated with perceived social isolation. Low indoor physical activity was associated with being socially isolated from family and low outdoor physical activity was associated with being socially isolated from friends and neighbors (−4.5 minutes; p = .012). These findings suggest the need for a more nuanced assessment of nonkin networks and a differentiated analysis of the locations in which physical activity is done in order to understand how social isolation affects everyday physical activity.

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Erik J. Timmermans, Suzan van der Pas, Elaine M. Dennison, Stefania Maggi, Richard Peter, Maria Victoria Castell, Nancy L. Pedersen, Michael D. Denkinger, Mark H. Edwards, Federica Limongi, Florian Herbolsheimer, Mercedes Sánchez-Martínez, Paola Siviero, Rocio Queipo, Laura A. Schaap, Dorly J.H. Deeg and for the EPOSA research group


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.


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.


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).


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.