Does physical activity improve mental health in the older population aged 65 and older?




Allen, Irina
Owens, Camille
Berumen, Lori
Hartos, Jessica


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Purpose: Research has shown a positive relationship between physical activity and good mental health in most age groups; however, there is conflicting evidence about this relationship in the older population. The purpose of this study was to determine whether physical activity is related to mental health in the general population for those aged 65 and older. Methods: This cross sectional analysis used data from the 2015 BRFFS for adults aged 65 and older from Alabama, Oklahoma and Oregon. The relationship between physical activity and mental health was analyzed using multiple logistic regression controlling for comorbid health conditions, depression, education, income, marital status, ethnicity/race, gender, and age. Results: The majority of participants reported good mental health (74-78%); a moderate amount reported being highly active (32-51%), and less reported being insufficiently active (13-15%). In adjusted analysis, physical activity as well as depression were significantly related to good mental health in adults aged 65 or older across all three states. Conclusions: Overall, physical activity is significantly related to good mental health in adults aged 65 and older. Females and those ever diagnosed with depression were less likely to report good mental health. When older adults present to primary care clinic, providers should screen their levels of physical activity and symptoms of depression. It is recommended that providers educate patients about the benefits of physical activity for mental health.