Social-cognitive and perceived environment influences associated with physical activity in older Australians

Prev Med. 2000 Jul;31(1):15-22. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2000.0661.


Background: Regular physical activity in older adults can facilitate healthy aging, improve functional capacity, and prevent disease. However, factors associated with physical inactivity in older populations are poorly understood. This study attempts to identify social-cognitive and perceived environmental influences associated with physical activity participation in older populations.

Methods: In a randomly selected sample of 449 Australian adults age 60 and older, we assessed self-reported physical activity and a range of social-cognitive and perceived environmental factors. Respondents were classified as sufficiently active and inactive based on energy expenditure estimates (kcal/week) derived from self-reported physical activity. Two logistic regression models, with and without self-efficacy included, were conducted to identify modifiable independent predictors of physical activity.

Results: Significantly more males than females were physically active. Physical activity participation was related to age with a greater proportion of those age 65-69 being active than those age 60-64 or 70 or older. High self-efficacy, regular participation of friends and family, finding footpaths safe for walking, and access to local facilities were significantly associated with being active.

Conclusion: Identifying predictors of physical activity in older populations, particularly social support, facility access, and neighbourhood safety, can inform the development of policy and intervention strategies to promote the health of older people.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Australia
  • Cognition
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Psychology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Environment