Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are not barriers to walking among the very elderly: findings from a national Australian survey

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Abstract

Background:

Walking has numerous health benefits and is an accessible option for most elderly people. This study explored the effects of age and sex on walking in community-dwelling respondents aged 75 years and older and the influence of chronic disease on this association.

Methods:

Cross-sectional data on 349 men and 499 women from the Australian 2011–2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey were used. Data were weighted to enable generalization of the findings to the Australian population aged 75 years and older. Outcome measures were self-reported participation in walking and duration of walking. Chronic diseases considered were ischemic heart disease, angina, heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, and diabetes.

Results:

No difference in walking participation was seen between men and women, but among those who walked, men walked for longer than women. Those aged 85 years and older were less likely to walk than those aged 75–79 years, but age was not associated with walking duration among older adults. Cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes had no effect on walking participation or duration.

Conclusion:

There is a cohort of active older Australian men and women who continue to walk well into very old age, irrespective of cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes.

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