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Outdoor physical activity and self rated health in older adults living in two regions of the U.S.

Jacqueline Kerr16*, James F Sallis13, Brian E Saelens2, Kelli L Cain13, Terry L Conway13, Lawrence D Frank4 and Abby C King5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family & Preventive Medicine, UCSD, San Diego, CA, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

3 Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, USA

4 School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

5 Department of Health Research & Policy and the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

6 University of California, 9500 Gilman Drive, #0811, La Jolla, San Diego, CA, 92093-0811, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012, 9:89  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-89

Published: 30 July 2012



Older adults spend little time outdoors and many are physically inactive. The relationship between outdoor physical activity and self rated health has not been studied in older adults. This paper aimed to assess the relation of location of physical activity to self rated health and physical activity minutes. This was an observational study of ambulatory adults 66 years and older conducted in 2005–2008. Participants (N = 754) completed survey measures of physical activity location and self rated health, and wore an accelerometer to objectively assess physical activity. A mixed model linear regression procedure adjusted for neighborhood clustering effects. Differences in self rated health and physical activity minutes were compared across three physical activity settings (indoor only, outdoor only, both indoor and outdoor).


Minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity were significantly greater in those who were physically active at least once a week outdoors compared with those who were physically active indoors only. Self rated health was significantly related to being physically active but did not vary by location of activity.


Older adults who were physically active outdoors accumulated significantly more physical activity, but self-rated health was not significantly greater than those being physically active indoors.

Built environment; Accelerometers; Quality of life; Exercise