Self-Reported Physical Activity Levels of Older Cancer Survivors: Results from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey

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Journal of the American Geriatrics Society




Objectives: To examine adherence to the American College of Sports Medicine and American Cancer Society guidelines on leisure-time aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity (PA) of older cancer survivors.

Design: Cross-sectional study based on the 2014 National Health Interview Survey.

Setting: United States.

Participants: Young-old (65–74) (n = 627), old-old (≥75) (n = 656), and middle-aged (45–64) (n = 786) cancer survivors and adults without cancer (n = 18,369), stratified according to the same age groups.

Measurements: Weighted percentages were used to describe sociodemographic and health-related characteristics of the study population. Unadjusted and adjusted predicted probabilities from generalized ordered and multinomial logistic regressions were estimated to examine levels of aerobic and muscle-strengthening PA in the study population.

Results: Cancer survivors and those without a cancer diagnosis had similarly low rates of adherence to PA guidelines according to age group. In unadjusted analyses, the age effect was statistically significant in long-term cancer survivors only. Adjusting for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, on average, 34.0% of young-old and 35.4% of old-old cancer survivors engaged in sufficient levels of aerobic PA, versus 44.3% of their middle-aged counterparts (P's <.05). Approximately 10% of older cancer survivors met aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines, compared with 19.1% of middle-aged cancer survivors (P = .001).

Conclusion: Adherence to the recommended levels of leisure-time aerobic and muscle-strengthening PA is lower in older than middle-aged cancer survivors in the United States. Greater efforts must be made to encourage and support PA participation in this population.