Physical Activity, Functional Ability, and Obesity in Older Adults: A Gender Difference
Journal of Gerontological Nursing
Disability, institutionalization, and loss of independence may be directly caused or exacerbated by physical inactivity and obesity. The purpose of the current cross-sectional survey was to explore the impact of gender and obesity on functional ability tasks, physical activity, and psychosocial factors in older adults. Participants comprised 964 University retirees (55% female, mean age = 75.3 years, SD = 6.7 years) with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 26.1 kg/m2 (SD = 4.7 kg/m2). Results revealed significant gender and BMI interaction effects. Women were less active than men and obese women were most functionally impaired, particularly in activities that target lower extremity function, regardless of weight status. These findings suggest that physical activity interventions for older adults should focus on exercises that improve functional ability and are tailored to meet individual needs while considering weight and gender. Type, intensity, frequency, and duration of exercises should be individualized to limit injuries and improve functional ability and physical activity adherence.