Objectives: Social isolation is an increasing concern in older community-dwelling adults. There is growing need to determine effective interventions addressing social isolation. This study aimed to determine whether a relationship exists between physical activity (recreational and/or household-based) and social isolation. An examination was conducted for whether group- or home-based falls prevention exercise was associated with social isolation. Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of telephone survey data was used to investigate relationships between physical activity, health, age, gender, living arrangements, ethnicity and participation in group- or home-based falls prevention exercise on social isolation. Univariable and multivariable ordered logistic regression analyses were conducted. Results: Factors found to be significantly associated with reduced social isolation in multivariable analysis included living with a partner/spouse, reporting better general health, higher levels of household-based physical activity (OR = 1.03, CI = 1.01–1.05) and feeling less downhearted/depressed. Being more socially isolated was associated with symptoms of depression and a diagnosis of congestive heart failure (pseudo R2 = 0.104). Discussion: Findings suggest that household-based physical activity is related to social isolation in community-dwelling older adults. Further research is required to determine the nature of this relationship and to investigate the impact of group physical activity interventions on social isolation.
This paper describes why older adults begin, continue, and discontinue group-and home-based falls prevention exercise and benefits and barriers to participation. Telephone surveys were used to collect data for 394 respondents. Most respondents reported not participating in group-(66%) or home-based (78%) falls prevention exercise recently. Reasons for starting group-based falls prevention exercise include health benefits (23-39%), health professional recommendation (13-19%), and social interaction (4-16%). They discontinued because the program finished (44%) or due to poor health (20%). Commonly reported benefits were social interaction (41-67%) and health (15-31%). Disliking groups was the main barrier (2-14%). Home-based falls prevention exercise was started for rehabilitation (46-63%) or upon health professional recommendation (22-48%) and stopped due to recovery (30%). Improvement in health (18-46%) was the main benefit. These findings could assist health professionals in prescribing group-based falls prevention exercise by considering characteristics of older adults who perceive social interaction to be beneficial.