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Exercise to socialize? Bidirectional relationships between physical activity and loneliness in middle-aged and older American adults

journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-12, 01:01 authored by DL Surkalim, PJ Clare, R Eres, K Gebel, AE Bauman, D Ding
Abstract Physical inactivity and loneliness are both associated with health risks and can affect each other through various social and behavioral mechanisms. However, current evidence on this relationship is equivocal and mostly based on cross-sectional data. This longitudinal study aims to determine whether current levels of physical activity (moderate- and vigorous-intensity) and loneliness are associated with future respective states of themselves and each other. Data from waves 6-14 (2002-2018) of the Health and Retirement Study were used (n=20,134) in a mixed-effects and random intercept cross-lagged panel model. Analysis showed that current loneliness and physical activity were associated with each future respective state. Additionally, weekly participation in moderate-intensity, but not vigorous-intensity, physical activity was associated with a lower likelihood of becoming lonely in the future (RR: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.90-0.99). However, changes in physical activity were not associated with deviation from a person’s typical level of loneliness (vigorous-intensity mean deviation (MD): 0.00; 95% CI: -0.04-0.03, moderate-intensity MD: 0.01; 95% CI: -0.03-0.04). Loneliness was not associated with moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity in subsequent waves. This suggests that while lower physical activity levels can be associated with future loneliness, changing levels of physical activity has little impact on loneliness at the individual level.

History

Journal

American Journal of Epidemiology

Pagination

kwae001-

Location

United States

ISSN

0002-9262

eISSN

1476-6256

Language

en

Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)