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Kimberlee A. Gretebeck, Kaitlyn Radius, David R. Black, Randall J. Gretebeck, Rosemary Ziemba and Lawrence T. Glickman

Background:

Regular walking improves overall health and functional ability of older adults, yet most are sedentary. Dog ownership/pet responsibility may increase walking in older adults. Goals of this study were to identify factors that influence older adult walking and compare physical activity, functional ability and psychosocial characteristics by dog ownership status.

Methods:

In this cross-sectional study, older adults (65−95 years of age, n = 1091) completed and returned questionnaires via postal mail. Measures included: Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly, Physical Functioning Questionnaire and Theory of Planned Behavior Questionnaire.

Results:

Dog owner/dog walkers (n = 77) reported significantly (P < .05) more total walking, walking frequency, leisure and total physical activity and higher total functional ability than dog owner/nondog walkers (n = 83) and nondog owners (n = 931). Dog owner/nondog walkers reported lower intention and perceived behavioral control and a less positive attitude than dog owner/dog walkers (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Dog owner/dog walkers were significantly different than the nondog walker groups in nearly every study variable. Many dog owners (48.1%) reported walking their dogs regularly and the dog owner/dog walkers participated in nearly 50% more total walking than the 2 nondog walking groups, suggesting that pet obligation may provide a purposeful activity that motivates some older dog owners to walk.

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Kathleen Benjamin, Nancy C. Edwards and Virendra K. Bharti

For seniors, an inactive lifestyle can result in declines in mental and physical functioning, loss of independence, and poorer quality of life. This cross-sectional descriptive study examined theory-of-planned-behavior, health-status, and sociodemographic predictors on exercise intention and behavior among 109 older and physically frail adults. Significant predictors of being a high versus a low active were a strong intention to continue exercising, positive indirect attitudes about exercise, and having been advised by a doctor to exercise. Findings indicate that a strong intention to continue exercising differentiates between those who report low levels and those who report high levels of physical activity. The results also highlight the salience of physician’s advice for seniors to exercise.

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Yoshinori Fujiwara, Shoji Shinkai, Shuichiro Watanabe, Shu Kumagai, Takao Suzuki, Hiroshi Shibata, Tanji Hoshi and Toru Kita

This study investigated the effect of chronic medical conditions on changes in functional capacity in Japanese older adults. Participants comprised 1,518 people aged 65-84 living in an urban and a rural community. They were interviewed to determine the presence of chronic medical conditions and assessed for functional capacity using the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology (TMIG) Index of Competence. Follow-up occurred 4 years later. Statistical analysis revealed that self-reported medical conditions at baseline contributed to declines in the TMIG Index over the 4 years, even after participants’ age, sex, educational attainment, and baseline TMIG level were controlled for. In the urban area, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, and musculoskeletal disease significantly predicted decline in the index, whereas in the rural area, hypertension and diabetes mellitus were significant predictors. These results indicate the importance of controlling chronic medical conditions in order to prevent further declines in functional capacity in older adults.

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Natalie Frost, Michael Weinborn, Gilles E. Gignac, Shaun Markovic, Stephanie R. Rainey-Smith, Hamid R. Sohrabi, Ralph N. Martins, Jeremiah J. Peiffer and Belinda M. Brown

Objectives: To examine the associations between physical activity duration and intensity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and executive function in older adults. Methods: Data from 99 cognitively normal adults (age = 69.10 ± 5.1 years; n = 54 females) were used in the current study. Physical activity (intensity and duration) was measured with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and fitness was measured by analysis of maximal aerobic capacity, VO2peak. Executive function was measured comprehensively, including measures of Shifting, Updating, Inhibition, Generativity, and Nonverbal Reasoning. Results: Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with better performance on Generativity (B = .55; 95% confidence interval [.15, .97]). No significant associations were found between self-reported physical activity intensity/duration and executive functions. Discussion: To our knowledge, this study is the first to identify an association between fitness and Generativity. Associations between physical activity duration and intensity and executive function requires further study, using objective physical activity measures and longitudinal observations.

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Alessandra de Carvalho Bastone, Eduardo Ferriolli, Claudine Patricia Teixeira, João Marcos Domingues Dias and Rosângela Corrêa Dias

Background:

Self-reported measures of decreased aerobic fitness and low physical activity are criteria of frailty. However, research assessing aerobic fitness and physical activity levels associated with frailty is limited. Therefore, the aims of this study were to objectively assess the aerobic fitness and the physical activity level of frail and nonfrail elderly, and to examine the association between frailty, aerobic fitness and habitual physical activity.

Methods:

This study included 26 elderly (66 to 86 years), randomly selected. The groups (frail/nonfrail) were age and sex paired. Peak oxygen consumption, maximal walking distance and speed were assessed during the incremental shuttle walk test (ISWT). Average daily time spent in sedentary, light, moderate and hard activity, counts, number of steps and energy expenditure were measured by accelerometry.

Results:

All variables measured by the ISWT and accelerometer differed significantly between the groups (P < .02). All aerobic fitness and physical activity variables were significantly associated with frailty, independent of the number of chronic health conditions (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Frailty is associated with low peak oxygen consumption and low physical activity level. These findings could guide future clinical trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of aerobic exercises in the prevention and treatment of frailty.

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P. Margaret Grant, Philippa M. Dall, Sarah L. Mitchell and Malcolm H. Granat

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the accuracy of the activPAL physical activity monitor in measuring step number and cadence in older adults. Two pedometers (New-Lifestyles Digi-Walker SW-200 and New-Lifestyles NL-2000) used in clinical practice to count steps were simultaneously evaluated. Observation was the criterion measure. Twenty-one participants (65-87 yr old) recruited from community-based exercise classes walked on a treadmill at 5 speeds (0.67, 0.90, 1.12, 1.33, and 1.56 m/s) and outdoors at 3 self-selected speeds (slow, normal, and fast). The absolute percentage error of the activPAL was <1% for all treadmill and outdoor conditions for measuring steps and cadence. With the exception of the slowest treadmill speed, the NL-2000 error was <2%. The SW-200 was the least accurate device, particularly at slower walking speeds. The activPAL monitor accurately recorded step number and cadence. Combined with its ability to identify primary postures, the activPAL might be a useful and versatile device for measuring activity in older adults.

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Christie L. Ward, Rudy J. Valentine and Ellen M. Evans

Adiposity, lean mass, and physical activity (PA) are known to influence physical function in older adults, although the independent influences are not completely characterized. Older adults (N = 156, M age = 68.9 ± 6.7 yr, 85 men) were assessed for body composition via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, PA by accelerometer, and physical function via timed up-and-go (UP&GO), 30-s chair stand, 6-min walk (6-min WALK), and Star-Excursion Balance Test. In the absence of percentage-body-fat by PA interactions (p > .05), main effects existed such that a higher percentage body fat was associated with poorer performance in UP&GO, 30-s chair stand, and 6-min WALK (p < .05). No significant main effects were found for PA and functional performance. Adiposity explains 4.6–11.4% in physical functional variance (p < .05). Preventing increases in adiposity with age may help older adults maintain functional independence.

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Michelle Gray, Sally Paulson and Melissa Powers

The aim of this investigation was to determine the relationship between usual and maximal walking velocities with measures of functional fitness (FF). Fifty-seven older adults (78.2 ± 6.6 years) were recruited from a local retirement community. All participants completed the following assessments: 10-m usual and maximal walk, Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), 6-min walk (6MW), 8-foot up-and-go (UPGO), and 30-s chair stand. Based on their SPPB performance, low (≤ 9) and high (≥ 10) FF groups were formed. Among all participants, maximal walking velocity, not usual walking velocity, was significantly correlated with SPPB (r = .35; p < .05 and r = .19; p > .05, respectively). In the high functioning group, both maximal and usual walking velocities were correlated, but correlation coefficients were stronger for all variables for maximal walking velocity. These results suggest different walking conditions may be necessary to use for high and low functioning older adults; specifically, maximal walking velocity may be a preferred measure among high functioning older adults.

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Bo Wang, Zheng Li, Maohua Miao, Xiaoqin Liu, Huiqing Wang, Guoqing Liang, Zhiyong Liu, Yinghao Sun and Wei Yuan

Background:

Research on the relationship between physical activity and aging symptoms among men is limited in China.

Methods:

Eight hundred nineteen participants aged 40 to 70 (mean age = 58.25) were administered the International Physical Activity Questionnaire and Aging Males’ Symptoms scale (AMS) in face-to-face interviews between 2009 and 2010. Ordinal logistic regression and generalized linear models were used to examine severity of aging symptoms. AMS total score and subscale scores (psychological, somatic, and sexual health) were examined according to physical activity level.

Results:

Participants who reported higher levels of physical activity were significantly less likely to develop aging symptoms compared with those who reported lower levels of physical activity, both with (odds ratio [OR] = 0.78, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.64 to 0.95) and without (OR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.56 to 0.87) adjustment for age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol consumption, and chronic disease. In addition, physical activity was negatively correlated with AMS total score (P < .01) and scores for somatic (P < .01) and sexual (P = .04) health. After covariate adjustment, the negative correlation between physical activity and all AMS scores remained significant (P < .01).

Conclusion:

Physical activity is negatively correlated with aging symptoms among middle-aged men in Shanghai.

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Sandra C. Webber, Sheila M. Magill, Jenessa L. Schafer and Kaylie C.S. Wilson

The purpose was to compare step count accuracy of an accelerometer (ActiGraph GT3X+), a mechanical pedometer (Yamax SW200), and a piezoelectric pedometer (SC-StepMX). Older adults (n = 13 with walking aids, n = 22 without; M = 81.5 years old, SD = 5.0) walked 100 m wearing the devices. Device-detected steps were compared with manually counted steps. We found no significant differences among monitors for those who walked without aids (p = .063). However, individuals who used walking aids exhibited slower gait speeds (M = 0.83 m/s, SD = 0.2) than non–walking aid users (M = 1.21 m/s, SD = 0.2, p < .001), and for them the SC-StepMX demonstrated a significantly lower percentage of error (Mdn = 1.0, interquartile range [IQR] = 0.5−2.0) than the other devices (Yamax SW200, Mdn = 68.9, IQR = 35.9−89.3; left GT3X+, Mdn = 52.0, IQR = 37.1−58.9; right GT3X+, Mdn = 51.0, IQR = 32.3−66.5; p < .05). These results support using a piezoelectric pedometer for measuring steps in older adults who use walking aids and who walk slowly.