Physical activity and predictors of loneliness in community-dwelling older adults: The role of social connectedness Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This study sought to examine whether and how social connectedness impacts the association between physical activity and loneliness among older people in Ghana. Data for the analysis were obtained from the 2016-2017 Aging, Health, Psychological Wellbeing and Health-seeking Behavior Study (AgeHeaPsyWel-HeaSeeB) (N = 1200; mean age 66±12 years; women = 63%). Loneliness was assessed with the Short Form Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale. Multivariate linear regressions showed that increases in physical activity were associated with decreases in loneliness in the overall sample (β= -0.338, p < 0.005) and for men (β= -0.712, p < 0.005) but not in women (β = -0.039, p = 0.840). The negative association between physical activity and loneliness was moderated by social connectedness such that persons highly connected were much less likely to experience loneliness following physical activity engagement (β= -0.709, p = 0.023). Age-based analysis showed differential effects of physical activity on loneliness among the 65+ group (β = -0.437, p = 0.002) compared to the 50-64 group (β= -0.502, p = 0.031). Later life social connectedness tempers with the beneficial impact of physical activity on loneliness. Interventions to heal loneliness and for active aging should target physical activity and interpersonal engagements among older adults.

publication date

  • March 2021