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The aim of this study was to examine the dose-response relationship between walking activity and physical function (PF) in community-dwelling older adults. Physical activity (PA, pedometry) and PF (self-report [SF-36] and 6-minute walk test [6MWT]) were assessed in 836 individuals. Accumulated PA was categorized into four groups (1 = ≤ 2,500; 2 = 2,501–5,000; 3 = 5,001–7,500; and 4 = ≥ 7,501 steps/day). Across individual groups 1–4, SF-36 scores increased from 66.9 ± 25.0% to 73.5 ± 23.2% to 78.8 ± 19.7% to 81.3 ± 20.6%, and 6MWT increased from 941.7 ± 265.4 ft to 1,154.1 ± 248.2 ft to 1,260.1 ± 226.3 ft to 1,294.0 ± 257.9 ft. Both SF-36 and 6MWT scores were statistically different across all groups, apart from groups 3 and 4. PA and ranks of groups were highly significant predictors (p < .0001) for both SF-36 and 6MWT. There was a positive dose-response relationship evident for both SF-36 and 6MWT with increasing levels of PA. Low levels of PA appear to be an important indicator of poor functionality in older adults.

Dondzila is with the Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Science, The Citadel, Charleston, SC. Gennuso, Swartz, and Strath are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI. Tarima is with the Institute for Health and Society, Division of Biostatistics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Wauwatosa, WI. Lenz is with the Department of Kinesiology, Sport Studies, and Physical Education, The College of Brockport, Brockport, NY. Stein and Kohl are with the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, Milwaukee, WI. Address author correspondence to Christopher J. Dondzila at cdondzil@citadel.edu.