Background: Physical activity contributes to maintaining functional ability later in life. Specific relationships between walking for particular purposes (eg, recreation or transport) and functional ability are not clear. It is useful for planning health promotion strategies to clarify whether walking time for recreation, or walking time for transport has the stronger relationship with maximum walking speed (MWS), a determinant of functional ability later in life in the elderly.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2007 using a sample of 372 community-dwelling elderly people aged 60 to 87 years in Mitoya Town, Unnan City, rural Japan. Associations with MWS were examined for self-reported weekly times of walking for recreation and for transport using multiple linear regression analyses.
Results: Both in men and women, walking time for recreation was significantly associated with MWS after controlling for age, height, weight, hip and knee pain, and a number of chronic diseases (men: β = 0.18, P = .024; women: β = 0.17, P < .01). However, walking time for transport was not significantly associated with MWS (men: β = -0.094, P = .24; women: β = -0.040, P = .50).
Conclusions: Walking for recreation may contribute to maintaining functional abilities such as MWS in the elderly.