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The relationship between expectations for aging and physical activity among older adults.



New strategies to increase physical activity among sedentary older adults are urgently needed.


To examine whether low expectations regarding aging (age-expectations) are associated with low physical activity levels among older adults.


Cross-sectional survey.


Six hundred and thirty-six English- and Spanish-speaking adults aged 65 years and above attending 14 community-based senior centers in the Los Angeles region. Over 44% were non-Latino whites, 15% were African American, and 36% were Latino. The mean age was 77 years (range 65 to 100).


Self-administered written surveys including previously tested measures of age-expectations and physical activity level in the previous week.


Over 38% of participants reported <30 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity in the previous week. Older adults with lower age-expectations were more likely to report this very low level of physical activity than those with high age-expectations, even after controlling for the independent effect of age, sex, ethnicity, level of education, physical and mental health-related quality of life, comorbidity, activities of daily living impairment, depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, survey language, and clustering at the senior center. Compared with the quintile of participants having the highest age-expectations, participants with the lowest quintile of age-expectations had an adjusted odds ratio of 2.6 (95% confidence intervals: 1.5, 4.5) of reporting <30 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity in the previous week.


In this diverse sample of older adults recruited from senior centers, low age-expectations are independently associated with very low levels of physical activity. Harboring low age-expectations may act as a barrier to physical activity among sedentary older adults.

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