Health-related quality of life in relation to walking habits and fitness: a population-based study of 75-year-olds

Qual Life Res. 2013 Aug;22(6):1213-23. doi: 10.1007/s11136-012-0267-7. Epub 2012 Sep 22.


Purpose: To assess health-related quality of life (HRQL) in relation to walking habits and fitness status in older persons. A second aim was to examine fitness status as a mediator in the relation between walking habits and HRQL.

Methods: A cross-sectional population-based sample of 75-year-olds from Gothenburg, Sweden, was examined (n = 698, response rate 61 %). Walking habits were assessed as weekly frequency and duration. HRQL was assessed with the Short Form-36 (SF-36) and fitness with maximal and self-selected gait speed, chair-stand, stair-climbing capacity, grip strength and one-leg stance.

Results: The proportion of 75-year-olds who attained recommended levels of moderate physical activity (≥ 150 min/week), described as walking, was 60 %. This was positively associated with most subscales of SF-36 and with all fitness tests except grip strength. Maximal gait speed was the fitness test with the highest correlations to all SF-36 subscales. Fitness, described with maximal gait speed, was a partial mediator in most relations between walking habits and SF-36. After adjustment for confounders, associations between regular walking and SF-36 were no longer significant, except for Role Physical, General Health and Role Emotional in women.

Conclusions: Attaining recommended levels of walking, as well as a high fitness status, is positively associated with several aspects of HRQL in older persons. Fitness, described with maximal gait speed, seems to have a partial role in the relation between walking habits and HRQL, suggesting that other mechanisms are also involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Habits*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Walking / physiology
  • Walking / psychology*