Prevalence and correlates of physician recommendations to exercise among older adults

Teresa M. Damush, Anita L. Stewart, Kris M. Mills, Abby C. King, Philip L. Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations


Background. This study explored the prevalence of and factors associated with physician suggestions to exercise in a sample of older adults. Methods. We conducted telephone interviews of a random sample of members of two Medicare health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in Northern California. Participants were 893 community-dwelling older adults of whom 63% were women, 52% were married, and 12% were in a minority group. Mean years of education was 14.8 ± (2.6) and mean years of age was 74.9 ± (6.5). The associations between patient self-reports of ever receiving physician recommendations to exercise and the following categories of variables were assessed: demographics, health-related quality of life, medical conditions, health/risk behaviors, and health knowledge/interest/satisfaction. Results. The prevalence of older adults in this study ever receiving a physician suggestion to exercise was 48.2%. In a multivariate logistic regression model being younger, sedentary, and having a higher body mass index were independently (p ≤ .05) and positively associated with increased reports of having ever received a physician's advice to exercise. Those who were pre- contemplators (not thinking about changing physical activity behavior), and those who reported greater frequency of endurance exercise were less likely to report receiving a physician recommendation to exercise (p ≤ .05). Conclusions. Although physician advice appeared to be targeted to subgroups that could benefit, physician advice on exercise could be particularly increased for patients over 75 years of age, those currently not thinking about an increase in physical activity, and those currently active patients who may benefit from ongoing physician advice to promote maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M423-M427
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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