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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gender differences in pain-physical activity linkages among older adults : lessons learned from daily life approaches Ho, Amy


Many older adults know about the health benefits of an active lifestyle, but frequently, pain prevents them from engaging in physical activity. The majority of older adults experience pain, which is a complex experience that can vary across time and is shaped by sociocultural factors such as gender. The objectives of this study are twofold: first, to describe the time- varying associations between daily pain and physical activity, and second to explore differences in these associations between women and men. One hundred and twenty eight community dwelling older adults aged 65 years and older were asked to report their pain levels three times daily over a 10-day period. For the same period, participants wore an accelerometer to objectively capture their daily physical activity (step counts; minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity). Findings indicate that increased daily pain was associated with increased daily step counts and minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity especially among older women. Secondly, confirming past literature and contrasting daily pain reports, overall pain levels across the study period were negatively associated with minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Findings highlight that pain is significantly associated with physical activity in old age. The nature of this association depends on the time-scale that is considered and it differs between women and men. There is a need to pay more attention to those that are particularly vulnerable pain experience, to ensure both older men and women have an equal opportunity to engage in and benefit from physical activity.

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