JOURNAL ARTICLE

Impact of health perception, balance perception, fall history, balance performance, and gait speed on walking activity in older adults

Jaime B Talkowski, Jennifer S Brach, Stephanie Studenski, Anne B Newman
Physical Therapy 2008, 88 (12): 1474-81
18849479

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Disagreement currently exists regarding the contributions of various factors to physical activity in older adults. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the simultaneous impact of psychological (health perception and balance perception) and physiological (gait speed, fall history, and balance performance) factors on walking activity in older adults.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: This cross-sectional secondary data analysis included 2,269 community-dwelling older adults from the Cardiovascular Health Study. A series of simultaneous linear regression models were constructed to examine the association of walking activity with health and balance perception, gait speed, fall history, and balance performance after controlling for potential confounding factors.

RESULTS: Health and balance perception and gait speed were significantly related to walking activity after controlling for potential confounding factors. Participants who perceived both their health and their balance to be good walked more blocks per week than those who reported a discordant perception, who walked more than those who perceived both their health and their balance to be poor. Participants who walked at a normal speed walked more blocks per week than those who walked at a slow speed.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The measure of physical activity used in this study included only walking, not other low- to moderate-intensity activities that are common in older adults. Health and balance perception and gait speed were associated with walking activity more so than fall history or balance performance after controlling for potential confounding factors.

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