Background: Participation in a sports group is key for the prevention of incident functional disability. Little is known about the correlates of older adults' participation in sports groups, although this could assist with the development of effective health strategies. The purpose of this study was to identify the demographic and biological, psychosocial, behavioral, social and cultural, and environmental correlates of sports group participation among Japanese older adults.
Methods: Data were obtained from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation study, which was a population-based cohort of people aged ≥65 years without disability enrolled from 31 municipalities across Japan (n = 78,002). Poisson regression analysis was used to determine the associations between the factors and participation in sports groups.
Results: Non-regular participation in sports groups was associated with lower educational level, being employed, and working the longest in the agricultural/forestry/fishery industry among the demographic and biological factors and poor self-rated health and depression among the psychosocial factors. Of the behavioral factors, current smoking was negatively associated and current drinking was positively associated with regular participation in sports groups. Among the social and cultural factors, having emotional social support and participating in hobby clubs, senior citizen clubs, or volunteer groups were associated with a high prevalence of participation in sports groups. Perceptions of the presence of parks or sidewalks, good access to shops, and good accessibility to facilities were positively associated with participation in sports groups among the environmental factors.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that the promotion of activities that could increase older adults' participation in sports groups should consider a broad range of demographic and biological, psychosocial, behavioral, social and cultural, and environmental factors. Although future longitudinal studies to elucidate the causal associations are needed, encouraging participation in community groups through social networks might be effective for participation in sports groups.