Accelerometer-assessed outdoor physical activity is associated with meteorological conditions among older adults: Cross-sectional results from the OUTDOOR ACTIVE study

PLoS One. 2020 Jan 24;15(1):e0228053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228053. eCollection 2020.


Background: Meteorological conditions are potential determinants of physical activity (PA). A profound understanding of the determinants of PA behaviour is required for PA promotion. This study examined the association between accelerometer-assessed PA and meteorological conditions among older adults.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included data of 577 adults aged 65-75 years living in Bremen, Germany (52% female; 3278 days). PA was measured with accelerometers for seven consecutive days (10/15-08/16). A threshold of 240 lx was used to differentiate between outdoor physical activity (OPA) and indoor physical activity (IPA). Linear mixed models estimated the association between PA (daily accelerometer counts per minute (CPM)) and meteorological factors (temperature, cloud cover, wind, and no precipitation) derived by principal component analysis.

Results: The analyses showed associations between PA in CPM and the meteorological factors temperature (93.7; 95%-CL: 64.9, 122.5) and no precipitation (48.4; 95%-CL: 19.8, 77.0) in women and wind (-40.3; 95%-CL: -59.7, -20.8) and no precipitation (30.1; 95%-CL: 5.6, 54.6) in men. After distinguishing in OPA and IPA for a subsample of 128 participants (473 days), the sex differences were no longer present. OPA in CPM was associated with temperature (women: 174.5; 95%-CL: 81.3, 267.6; men: 183.3; 95%-CL: 81.2, 285.4), cloud cover (women: -153.0; 95%-CL: -200.3, -105.7; men: -123.2; 95%-CL: -174.7, -71.7), and wind (women: -118.6; 95%-CL: -189.6; -47.7; men: -96.9; 95%-CL: -177.0, -16.7). No association between OPA and no precipitation was found (women: 2.9; 95%-CL: -89.0, 94.8; men: -17.1; 95%-CL: -116.7, 82.4).

Conclusions: The results of this study emphasize the importance of meteorological conditions as environmental determinants of PA among older adults. Meteorological conditions should be accounted for in the unbiased assessment of habitual PA and the development of PA promotion programs. Future research should focus on the associations of OPA and IPA with meteorological conditions in different climatic regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry*
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meteorological Concepts*

Grant support

The OUTDOOR ACTIVE study is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF;; grant number: 01EL1422B). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.