Physical inactivity in elderly is a public health problem. The purpose of this study is to describe and test the association between social support and leisure-time physical activity among the elderly.
A cross-sectional, population-based study with 1,285 subjects (60+ years old) living in a city in southern Brazil was carried out in 2014. Physical activity practice was measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire [leisure domain: at least 150 minutes per week of walking + moderate physical activity + 2(vigorous physical activity)], while social support was measured using the Physical Activity Social Support Scale.
The prevalence of elderly who reached the recommendations of leisure-time physical activity was 18.4%. The elderly persons who had the company of family or friends to walk had a 2.45 times higher prevalence of reaching the recommendations of physical activity in leisure than those who did not. Those who had company of friends to practice moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were 3.23 times more likely to reach physical activity recommendations than their counterparts. The least common social support was the joint practice for walking and for MVPA.
Strategies that incentivize family members and friends to provide social support to the elderly for physical activity focusing on joint practice must be encouraged.
The authors are with the Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.