Physical activity among elderly people in a city population: the influence of neighbourhood level violence and self perceived safety

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Study objective:To study the associations between neighbourhood level violence/fear of violence and physical activity among elderly people, accounting for somatic health.Design:Self reported data from the Oslo health study, a cross sectional study conducted in 2000, were linked with sociodemographic and social security data from Statistics Norway. A multilevel regression analysis was conducted by MlwiN using contextual level variables provided by the Oslo City Council.Setting:Oslo, Norway.Participants:3499 inhabitants aged 74/5 (53.2% of all invitees).Main results:20.5% of the elderly were physically active less than one hour a week. Somatic health was clearly associated with physical activity among both men and women. Neighbourhood level violence was associated with physical activity only for men, while fear of violence was only associated with physical activity for women. Differences in somatic health did not explain differences in physical activity between neighbourhoods. These differences were explained by socioeconomic variables, and neighbourhood level violence/fear of violence.Conclusions:In a sample of presumably healthy 75/76 year olds in Oslo, the associations between neighbourhood level violence and physical activity (among men), and fear of violence and physical activity (among women), are of the same sizes as those between somatic health and physical activity. These two dimensions of violence have, in contrast with somatic health, an explanatory function in exploring differences in physical activity between neighbourhoods in Oslo.

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