Is Physical Activity Associated With Loneliness or Social Isolation in Older Adults? Results of a Longitudinal Analysis Using the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

Ilona Mc Mullan, Brendan Bunting, Annette Burns, Lee Smith, Connor Cunningham, Roger O'Sullivan, Nicole Blackburn, Jason Wilson, Mark Tully

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Abstract

Social relationships are central to the health and well-being of older adults. Evidence exploring the association of physical activity (PA) with social isolation and loneliness is limited. This study uses a path analysis to investigate the longitudinal association between loneliness and social isolation with PA using the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing. Higher levels of social isolation measured using the Berkman-Syme Social Network Index were directly and indirectly associated with lower levels of walking, moderate PA, and vigorous PA over 6 years. Additionally, higher levels of walking were associated with lower levels of loneliness measured using a modified version of the University of California, Los Angeles loneliness scale over a 3-year period. Future interventions should target individuals who are more socially isolated and explore the effects of different types of PA on loneliness over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-572
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Aging and Physical Activity
Volume29
Issue number4
Early online date20 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Longitudinal
  • Moderate activity
  • Vigorous activity
  • Walking

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