Physical activity acting as a resource for social support among older adults in Brazil

Tânia R. Bertoldo Benedetti, Andiara Schwingel, Tatiana de Lucena Torres

Abstract

As people age, their various social roles and relationships change. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of physical activity participation on social engagement among older adults living in Brazil. The participants of the study were selected using probabilistic sampling, stratified by Census tracts (neighborhoods) and gender. The participants' information was assessed by two standardized questionnaires: "Brazil Old Age Schedule" (BOAS) and "Physical Activities International Questionnaire" (IPAQ). A total of 875 older adults living in Southern Brazil participated in this study. Their average age was 71.6 (SD=7.9), 61.4% were married, and 66.6% of the individuals lived with their children. The results show that older adults who were more physically active had a satisfactory level of social relations with their family (84.8%), friends (97%), and neighbors (96%). Also, physically active older adults were four times more likely to engage in social clubs than their less active counterparts (OR = 3.82). Similar trends were observed when comparing more and less active older adults in regard to their participation in other social group opportunities in the community, such as residents' association (OR=1.97) and social interaction groups (OR=1.52). This study underscores the positive role of physical activity in older adults' perceptions and participation in social groups available in the community.


Keywords

Physical activity; Aging; Older adults; Social support

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4100/jhse.2011.62.26