Research Study Abstract

The relationship between social support and objective physical activity in older adults in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

  • Presented on May 21, 2014

Purpose: Despite benefits associated with physical activity (PA), less than 3% of older adults meet national guidelines. Theoretical models have suggested social support (SS) as an important construct related to increased PA. The purpose of the present study was to examine the association between SS and objectively measured PA in a population of older adults living in CCRCs.

Methods: 307 participants wore an Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometer for 6 days for a minimum of 10 hours per day. Average daily PA time was computed for low-light PA as the number of minutes spent at less than 100 to 1040 counts per minute (CPM), for high-light PA from 1041 to 1951 and for moderate/vigorous PA greater than 1952 CPM. Particpiants also completed an 8-item SS survey, measuring instrumental and emotional support from spouses, friends on campus, visiting friends or family, and CCRC staff. Data were analyzed using multiple regression adjusting for total wear time (minutes) and age.

Results: The mean age of participants was 84+6 yrs. No significant relationships were found between SS and low-light intensity PA. Emotional and instrumental support from friends significantly predicted high-light intensity PA (β = .120, t=2.2, p =.029) and instrumental support from all sources significantly predicted moderate intensity PA (β = .131, t=2.4, p =.018).

Conclusions: In CCRCs, support from friends as well as tangible support (e.g., walking with another resident) may be especially important in encouraging PA in older adults.