Physical Impairments Disrupt the Association Between Physical Activity and Loneliness: A Longitudinal Study

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INTRODUCTION:: This study explores the association between physical activity (PA), loneliness and the presence of physical chronic impairments among single older adults.

METHODS:: A longitudinal study (N = 575; mean age 76 ± 8 years) was conducted. The association between self-reported weekly minutes of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA), loneliness and presence of physical impairments was assessed with multilevel analyses at baseline, 3 months and 6 months.

RESULTS:: Improvements in MVPA were associated with decreases in loneliness (B = - 0.09; SE = 0.04; p = 0.020): this association became non-significant when including the presence of physical impairments in the analyses (p = 0.824), which in itself was positively associated with loneliness (B = 0.51; SE = 0.10; p <0.001).

DISCUSSION:: Findings indicate that physical impairments have a larger influence on loneliness than the level of PA. Interventions targeting PA and loneliness should tailor specifically to physical impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787–796
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Aging and Physical Activity
Issue number6
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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