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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.