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While there are many known health benefits to maintained physical activity levels in late adulthood, there have been very few studies that have considered relationships between morbidity profile and physical activity in the eighth decade of life. We studied 1097 participants, 555 men and 542 women from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study, a UK community based sample. Validated questionnaire based data were used to relate self-reported physical activity (PA) levels to medical history, and medication use. Regression analyses were adjusted for age, BMI, smoker status, alcohol consumption. The mean (SD) age of participants in the study was 80.2 (2.7) years for men and 80.2 (2.6) for women. A higher proportion of men (33.7 %) than women (24 %) were in the high activity score group. 20.8 % of female participants and 22.6 % male participants reported having no comorbid disease; 10.5 % men and 8.4 % women were taking no medication. Higher number of chronic conditions was associated with lower levels of PA [men (OR 0.73, 95 % CI 0.63-0.84, p<0.001); women (OR 0.74, 95 % CI 0.64-0.86, p<0.001)] as was being prescribed a higher number of medications [men (OR 0.88, 95 % CI 0.84-0.93, p<0.001); women (OR 0.86, 95 % CI 0.82-0.91, p<0.001)]. All these associations remained robust following adjustments. Strong relationships were seen in both sexes between PA and taking medication for disorders of the central nervous system and gastrointestinal system, with relationships generally stronger in men. We have observed relationships between comorbid medical history and medication use with physical activity in a cohort of community dwelling older adults. These highlight the need to consider medical history when considering how best to optimize PA in older adults.

Original publication




Journal article


Excli j

Publication Date





695 - 703


activity, comorbidity, medication, older, system