The purpose of this paper is to establish whether the inclusion of physical activity (PA) in a community programme setting is more beneficial than the benefit obtained from social participation for older adults.
A cross-sectional study conducted with a sample of 105 adults age 65+ and older that take part in community activities organised by the Bristol based charity LinkAge. Participants took part in either solely social groups or social groups with a PA component. A self-report questionnaire was composed of measures assessing functional health and well-being, health-related quality of life, functional ability, outcome expectation for exercise, and social support.
A significantly different and higher score on physical health measures was reported by the physically active group for role physical, physical function, bodily pain, and the physical capacity score. No significant difference was found for health measures that include a mental component. The physically active group reported higher outcome expectations for exercise.
Social activity in community programmes may provide a method to maintain a healthy mental state in older adults, but participation in PA in the same environment is associated with better scores for physical health measures.
Providing greater support for older people to engage in physical and social activities may enable them to maintain a higher quality of life.
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