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The Influence of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior on Living to Age 85 Years Without Disease and Disability in Older Women

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Whether physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior influence the odds of women living to age 85 years without chronic disease or disability is not well described.


Participants of the Women's Health Initiative (n = 49,612) were categorized based on health status by age 85 years: (i) lived without developing major chronic disease or mobility disability ("healthy"); (ii) lived and developed mobility disability with or without disease; (iii) lived and developed major chronic disease, but not mobility disability; and (iv) died before their 85th birth year. Multinomial logistic regression models that adjusted for covariates such as age, race/ethnicity, and body size estimated associations of self-reported PA and sitting time on developing major disease or mobility disability or dying before age 85 relative to being healthy.


Mean ± SD baseline age was 70.2 ± 3.6 years. Distributions were: 22% healthy, 23% had mobility disability, 26% had major disease, and 29% died. Relative to those with high total PA, the adjusted odds ratios (OR) (confidence intervals [CI]) for mobility disability was 1.6 (1.4-1.7), 1.2 (1.1-1.3), and 1.1 (1.0-1.2) for women with no, low, and moderate total PA, respectively (p-trend < .001). The corresponding covariate-adjusted OR (CI) for mortality was 1.7 (1.5-1.8), 1.2 (1.1-1.3), and 1.0 (1.0-1.1) (p-trend < .001). Total PA was not associated with developing chronic disease before age 85 years. Sitting ≥10 relative to <5 hours per day increased the odds of mobility disability (1.1, CI: 1.0-1.3) and mortality (1.2, CI: 1.0-1.3) prior to age 85 years (p < .001).


Increasing PA to recommended levels and reducing sitting time are modifiable behaviors that may improve healthy aging in older women.

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