Research Study Abstract

Exploring relationships between physical activity and mental health in three older adult populations

  • Presented on May 21, 2014

Purpose: Little research compares physical and emotional functioning in different aging settings. We examined associations between several indicators of mental health (MH) and physical activity (PA) among older adults in three settings: Retirement communities (RCs), senior centers (SCs), and unaffiliated with a SC or RC.

Methods: Seniors in RCs (n=236), SCs (n=81), and unaffiliated (n=40) completed validated surveys to assess MH (stress, quality of life, depressive symptoms) and wore accelerometers for 7 days. Moderate-vigorous (MVPA) and high-light PA (HLPA) were calculated using established cut-offs: 1952 and 1041 counts, respectively. Separate linear regression models were conducted for each site and MH outcome, including MPVA, HLPA, and covariates.

Results: Participants (ages 56-102, 46.9-93.2% white, 40-69.5% female) ranged in mean MVPA minutes/day: 10.32 (RCs)-18.16 (SCs) and HLPA minutes/day: 20.43 (RCs)-23.92 (SCs). Depressive symptoms and stress were highest among unaffiliated seniors and lowest among those in RCs. QOL was positively associated with MVPA across all settings (RCs Std. B=.22, 95% CI=.01-.02; SCs Std. B=.39, 95% CI=.01-.02; unaffiliated Std. B=.63, 95% CI=.00-.01). Depressive symptoms were inversely associated with MVPA in RCs and SCs (Std. Bs=-.31, -.42, 95% CIs=-.13- -.04, -.16- -.01, respectively). Stress was inversely associated with MVPA in RCs (Std B=-.23, 95%CI=-.07- -.01). HLPA and depressive symptoms and stress showed inverse associations in RCs.

Conclusions: Across settings, PA and MH showed relationships in expected directions. The relationships differed by setting, with QOL showing the strongest associations with MVPA across settings. Larger samples of various communities of seniors would help to further clarify these relationships.


  • Rachel Millstein
  • Jacqueline Kerr
  • Katie Crist
  • Lu Wang
  • Dori Rosenberg

Presented at

ISBNPA 2014 Annual Conference


, ,