Research Study Abstract

Comparing Physical Activity And Fitness Among Hispanic Elders In Community-based Programs In Puerto Rico

  • Added on July 9, 2014

Background: Physical activity and fitness are essential to improve or maintain health particularly among elders, but rarely evaluated in community-based programs.

Purpose: We tested the following hypotheses: 1) steps/day and time engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) will be below recommended levels, and 2) steps/day and MVPA will be correlated with physical fitness in Hispanic elders participating in community-based programs in Puerto Rico.

Methods: Fifty-eight Hispanic elders (23 women, 34 men, mean±se: 76.4±1.1 years of age) participating in HOPE Centers located in Mayaguez and San Germán completed physical fitness evaluations (muscular strength with hand dynamometry, muscular endurance by number of squats per 30 seconds, sit and reach for flexibility, foot up and go test for agility, distance covered in 6 min for cardiorespiratory endurance, and BMI), and physical activity assessment with the GT3X+ accelerometer attached to a waist band during seven consecutive days. An independent t-test was used to detect gender differences, and correlation and regression analyses were used to determine associations between physical activity and fitness.

Results: Steps/day (3,527±271) and MVPA (64.5±16.2 min/week) were below the recommended levels. No gender differences were detected in any of the variables studied. MVPA did not correlate with fitness; however, steps/day was directly associated with muscle strength (r=0.35, P=0.02) and cardiorespiratory endurance (r=0.31, P=0.02), and inversely associated with agility (r= -0.24, P=0.04).

Conclusion: In average, elder participants in community-based programs in Puerto Rico were considered physically inactive; thus, suggesting the need to integrate daily sessions of physically demanding activities. The fact that those engaged in more steps/day had more upper body strength and cardiorespiratory endurance but lower agility suggests that activities that promote changes in speed and direction and muscle power should also be emphasized in these programs. Supported in part by Inter American University of Puerto Rico-San German Campus’ Research Coordination Office and Ronald E. McNair program.